Everton 0 Sheffield United 1: Daniel Jebbison makes history in Blades win

THE TALK beforehand was all about Sheffield United setting unwanted records.

Daniel Jebbison of Sheffield United celebrates after scoring their side's winner against Everton at Goodison Park. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

On a grey spring day when the rain teemed down, there was a welcome interlude of sunshine.

It was provided by a strapping teenager called Daniel Jebbison, who came to England from his native Canada five years ago with the sort of footballing dreams that countless young boys hold, but fail to fulfil.

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In his first start in English football, he made a piece of glorious history when he joyously struck in front of the deserted Gwladys Street End to help secure just a second away win in a tortuous 2020-21 for the Blades.

Sheffield United's Daniel Jebbison celebrates his winner at Everton.

It was the precursor to the smile of the season from a Sheffield United perspective in a fraught, long and painful campaign.

At the tender age of 17 years and 309 days, the young forward - who made his debut from the bench in the Blades’ recent home game with Crystal Palace – became the youngest player to score on his first start in the Premier League.

Daniel Jebbison, remember the name. Not bad for someone who was on loan at sixth tier side Chorley as recently as Christmas.

Ahead of the game, the chatter centred on the relegated Blades potentially equaling the record number of Premier League defeats in a season which stood at 29 and had previously been set by Derby County (2007-08), Sunderland (2005-06) and Ipswich Town (1994-95).

David McGoldrick of Sheffield United shoots at goal. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

There was also the matter of goals. With three games in their pretty joyless season to go, United’s meagre haul of 18 was two short of a record low competition total registered by the Rams’ infamous class of 07-08. They have two games remaining to avoid that fate.

In several recent games, United have been cowed into submission and have been passive, in the words of Heckingbottom.

Here was a refreshing change, with the urgency, poise and energy coming from those in red and white shirts and those in home jerseys looking ragged.

In wretched conditions, the sight of an empty Goodison Park – a stadium which is one of the most atmospheric in the top-flight at its best – was a reminder of what football has missed without supporters, with a limited number to finally return at stadiums from today.

That said, given their lethargic, unconvincing performance, it was probably a blessing for the hosts that no Evertonians were present as they might have just made their feelings known at what they were witnessing.

Jebbison was provided with a moment he will never forget just eight minutes in and he almost added another goal later on in the first half after cashing in on a poor error in possession from Mason Holgate, with Jordan Pickford alert to his chip and his follow-up blocked by Ben Godfrey.

Godfrey’s contribution for United’s opener was rather more reprehensible.

He injudiciously attempted to play offside after the Blues had been opened up by piercing play down their right involving Ben Osborn and Jack Robinson and Jebbison stayed alive at the far post to tuck the ball home.

For much of the first half, it was easy to see why Everton – whose haul of just six points at Goodison in 2021 was exactly half of the total that the relegated Blades going into the game – had succumbed to a debilitating bout of homesickness.

John Fleck also stung the palms of Pickford after more loose play by Everton, while at the other end, Aaron Ramsdale was equal to anything thrown at him and those in front of him were committed and together.

Ramsdale got things rolling with a good one-handed parry to turn away Allan’s goalbound drive, while he reserved his best for later on in the half with a terrific double save to keep out Richarlison’s point-blank header and block Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s follow-up.

The expression on his face pointed to a player enjoying himself. The Blades were too, with Chris Basham’s key challenge to block James Rodriguez’s goalbound drive also a reminder of better times.

A last-gasp tackle from John Egan - outstanding in the fixture here last season to deny Calvert-Lewin early in the second half was another timely rewind.

Electing to switch to a 4-3-3 in the second half, with Gylfi Sigurdsson brought on for the poor Holgate, Everton struggled to buck up their ideas up with the sands of time starting to run out in terms of their fading European hopes.

United sat in and were largely comfortable. A rarity this season.

David McGoldrick almost sealed it, only for Godfrey to get in the way of his goalbound effort in the nick of time.