Sheffield Utd 4 Yeovil 0: Michael Doyle scored his first goal for Sheffield United as the Blades took apart Yeovil Town and moved back into League One’s automatic promotion zone.
Doyle, who signed for the club nearly 12 months ago from Coventry City, had been under orders from manager Danny Wilson to shoot more often.
The Blades captain’s relief was obvious last night when he finally hit the net after months of trying.
Further goals from Richard Cresswell and Lee Williamson (2) completed a comfortable win for the Blades and a first league double of the season.
It also lifted Wilson’s men above both Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield Town into second place and closed the gap on leaders Charlton Athletic, who they play on January 21, to four points.
Gary Johnson’s return as manager was a boost to Yeovil’s morale ahead of last night’s game – although you would not know that from the result. Johnson led the Glovers from the Conference to League One during his first spell as manager seven years ago but his job now is saving the club from relegation to League Two.
The visitors had won only three of their last 20 games under former manager Terry Skiverton, who was on the bench as assistant manager last night.
It was also the first time the Blades had played host to this former non-league club – another sign of the way things have gone wrong at Bramall Lane over the last few years.
Matt Lowton, Cresswell and Stephen Quinn all returned to the Blades’ side in place of Chris Porter, Ryan Flynn and Johnny Ertl.
Yeovil nearly took an early lead when striker Jon Obika, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, pulled a shot inches wide of the far post.
The Blades were being hustled off the ball quickly and one or two Yeovil players looked intent on ruffling feathers.
Cresswell might have settled the nerves when he headed home Quinn’s cross after 18 minutes to put the Blades ahead but it was not long before Steve Simonsen was having to push away a dangerous effort from Andrew Williams as Yeovil looked a threat once again.
Doyle spurned a good opportunity to double Blades’ lead when he planted a header straight at Gilmartin. However, the most impressive performer in the Blades’ midfield was Kevin McDonald, who sprayed the ball around the park with real style.
Obika headed narrowly over the bar from a corner and, for a time, it looked as though the Blades could suffer from ‘new manager’ syndrome..
Patience, however, was the order of the day and a good spell of pressure eventually ended in Blades captain Doyle scoring from 25 yards eight minutes before the interval.
It was virtually ‘game over’ for Yeovil once midfielder Williamson made it 3-0 with an unstoppable drive straight after the break.
The Blades have now won 10 of their last 11 games in all competitions and are showing the sort of consistency needed to achieve their goal of an immediate return to the Championship.
Manager Wilson has won over his doubters and the football being played is far easier on the eye than under managers such as Adams, Blackwell or Warnock.
The only real concern for Blades supporters is the possibility of losing key players – specifically Harry Maguire, Matt Lowton or Ched Evans in the transfer window.
Yeovil never regained their early confidence and the majority of the second half was simply a case of going through the motions for the Blades.
Bizarrely, Yeovil manager Johnson staged two mid-match team-talks in his technical area when the game had to be halted for injuries to Evans and Paul Huntington.
It is not too often that you see 10 players sprinting over to a touchline for advice in the heat of a battle or, for that matter, the opposition left so open mouthed. It made little difference to the final result, in fact Blades could and probably should have won by even more.
Williamson scored his second of the game three minutes from the end with a shot that slipped between Gilmartin’s legs.
Wilson gave strikers Evans and Cresswell a rest for the final 20 minutes and sent on substitutes Porter and James Beattie.
It was former England international Beattie’s fifth appearance as substitute since returning to Bramall Lane on a short-term deal which is due to expire at the end of this month.
He is still looking for his first goal but had a shot blocked by Gilmartin and scooped another when marginally offside.
Porter should have scored after being set up by Beattie but his shot on the run flew high into the Bramall Lane Kop.
On this occasion, it was not going to upset anyone. Blades supporters went home happy and took their turn to sing the season’s Steel City anthem, ‘This city is ours,’ having regained the upper-hand over their neighbours in the promotion race
Sheffield United: Simonsen; Lowton, Maguire, Collins, Jean-Francois; Williamson (Montgomery 89), McDonald, Doyle, Quinn; Cresswell (Porter 71), Evans (Beattie 71). Unused substitutes: Long, M.Williams,
Yeovil Town: Gilmartin; Ayling, Huntington, Ehmer, Dickson; A.Williams, Wotton (Massey 45), Upson, G.Williams; Obika, MacLean (N’Gala 45). Unused substitutes: Jones, Agard, Stewart.
Referee: D Drysdale (Cambridgeshire)