Sheffield United 2 Oldham 0: Milestone moment as Billy Sharp fuels Blades’ promotion push

Billy Sharp.
Billy Sharp.
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Billy Sharp bagged his 50th goal for boyhood club Sheffield United as the Blades continued their promotion charge.

High-flying United were left frustrated for 70 minutes against strugglers Oldham, before captain Sharp pounced on Mark Duffy’s pass with a stunning volley to break the deadlock.

It shattered Oldham’s defiant rearguard action, and a goal worthy of winning any game. But two minutes from time, Sharp grabbed his second - and 16th of the season – drilling the ball home after substitute Leon Clarke put visiting goalkeeper Connor Ripley under pressure.

It was a far simpler effort, but Sharp revealed it was a special moment. “All goals are nice goals for me, but I enjoyed my second one a little bit more than the first because it was my 50th for United,” said the Sheffield-born striker, in his third spell at Bramall Lane.

“My dad comes up with a stat most games, whether I scored with my left foot the last time against this opposition.

“He told me today I needed two goals for 50 so it was in the back of my mind after the first goal. It was nice to get two and get the 50.

“He has never missed one of my games, and has a huge scrapbook, and keeps telling me things.

“For the first goal, it was a good ball by Duffs and I just tried to get my knee over the ball, because I had a chance a bit before where I hit it over.

“I knew I had hit it well, and to see it go in was nice.”

A crowd of 25,821 – United’s best of the season – saw United nearly broke the deadlock when Matt Done’s cross saw Sharp’s goal-bound header deflected wide by defender Charles Dunne.

Done and Sharp then missed out after a superb cross-field ball from Duffy was headed back across goal by Daniel Lafferty.

The introduction of substitute Leon Clarke – who saw a header hoofed away by Brian Wilson – helped turn the game in United’ favour and break the stalemate.

Duffy’s ball picked out Sharp to volley beyond Oldham goalkeeper Connor Ripley before United wrapped up the points in the 88th minute. Clarke did well to put Ripley under pressure, and as the ball broke clear Sharp was on hand to drill the ball home. In stoppage time, Clarke fired over with the goal at his mercy.

Sheffield United: Moore, O’Connell, Basham, Ebanks-Landell,Freeman,Fleck, Duffy (Scougall 90), Coutts (J Wright 90), Lafferty, Sharp, Done (Clarke 54). Unused substitutes: Lavery, Ramsdale, Brown, Brooks.

Oldham: Ripley, Law, Dummigan, Clarke, Dunne (Croft 81), Flynn, Wilson, Green (Winchester 88),McLaughlin,McKay,Osei (Ladapo 74). Unused substitutes: Burgess, Banks, Kettings, Sam Edmundson.

Referee: M Heywood (Cheshire).