Hull City 1 Sheffield United 3: Tigers goal drought over but Blades end their own barren streak in style

SOMETHING had to surely give when a team without a Championship home goal this season met a rival who had failed to score on their league travels so far in 2021-22 and it did in plentiful fashion.

Billy Sharp sees his penalty saved by Hull keeper Matt Ingram. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

One goal arrived from a source you would definitely expect, but the other two strikes most definitely did not.

The ones smiling at the end were Sheffield United, who rounded off an uplifting week to kick-start the Slavisa Jokanovic era in vibrant fashion with a 3-1 victory thanks to a first-half goal from Billy Sharp - who also, somewhat surprisingly, missed a first-half penalty - and a second half double in the shape of ten minutes an unlikely source from John Egan.

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He may not have found the net, but a big star of the show from a Blades perspective was Morgan Gibbs-White, who looked a real class act and continued to make friends and influence people and went close to scoring a goal in the second half with his effort tipped over by Matt Ingram.

For Hull, the pain continued, even if their goal famine at league level ended after 74 minutes when Keane Lewis-Potter struck a consolation at the back post after good work by ex-United striker Tyler Smith.

But a seventh game without a league win was the more damning statistic.

Players at opposing ends of their careers, Gibbs-White and Sharp very much represent the here and now for the Blades and both combined to devastating effect with two quality moments in a pretty sedate first half in this particular Yorkshire derby.

The first moment was stunning in its execution as United ended their run without a goal on their travels this term in deadly and eye-catching fashion on 18 minutes.

Sharp, in classic Sharp traditions, gobbled up a fine right-wing cross from Gibbs-White in the business end of the pitch where he operates with few Championship peers, finding space in the box to bury a header past Matt Ingram.

It was Sharp’s first goal away from Bramall Lane since his historic strike at Bournemouth on the opening day of the Premier League season in 2019-20 at the start of the Blades’ top-flight adventure.

Again a big away contingent, with 3,500 Unitedites packing out one end at Hull, lapped it up in pleasant sunshine amid an ironic chorus of ‘He’s just a fat lad from Sheffield.’

Ingram would fare better when faced with Sharp just before the interval after Gibbs-White’s incisive supply line again sent the veteran striker clear as the hosts appealed for offside.

Sharp was caught from behind by the backtracking Jacob Greaves and while the City defender appeared to get some of the ball, referee Dean Whitestone had a brief think about it before pointing to the spot, with Grant McCann left aggrieved.

He was feeling a bit better when Ingram fling himself to his right to make a fine low sharp to keep out the effort from Sharp, seeking further gloss on his 300th appearance for his hometown club.

The Gibbs-White-Sharp axis was the main selling point of the first half, with Hull failing to overly test Robin Olsen in the visiting goal, with the Swede making one routine save to deny Richie Smallwood.

Matt Smith drove an early chance over for Hull - who were without the injured duo of Greg Docherty and Tom Huddlestone with George Honeyman being a welcome returnee to the bench - while an alert interception from George Baldock denied Keane Lewis-Potter.

Hull’s best moment arrived in the 41st minute when the Blades’ susceptibility at self-pieces was again in evidence.

George Moncur’s deep corner found Di’Shon Bernard at the back post, but he could not direct his header which flew into the side-netting.

Clearly wanting more and mindful of his side’s malaise in front of goal, McCann rolled the dice at the interval with Honeyman handed his first outing of the campaign following injury and Andy Cannon also brought on with Matt Smith and Josh Magennis exiting the fray.

Moncur switched to the right of the ‘three’ in City’s 4-2-3-1 formation, with Mallik Wilks operating as the lone frontman, with Honeyman in the ‘number ten’ position.

Honeyman, eager to make an impact, copped an early booking for catching Osborn and the next development was even more unwanted for Hull.

Egan got on the end of a corner on the left from Conor Hourihane on his United debut, to head home from the range that all centre-halves like, following a bit of jostling with Wilks.

A brief fracas between Hull and Blades supporters in one corner of the stadium followed before Egan celebrated his second, clinically heading home a near-post header from Hourihane’s inswinging corner from the left.

Adlene Guedioura was brought on for his United bow, but it was another replacement who had a telling effect in Smith, who set up Lewis-Potter at the far post for his third of the season.

Hull showed spirit at least, but the points were United’s, with McBurnie going close to a late fourth.

Hull City: Ingram; Coyle, Bernard, Greaves, Elder; Smallwood, M Smith (Cannon 45), Moncur (T Smith 70); Wilks, Magennis (Honeyman 45), Wilks. Substitutes unused: Baxter, Emmanuel, Longman, McLoughlin.

Sheffield United: Olsen; Baldock, Egan, Davies (Basham 85), Norrington-Davies; Fleck, Hourihane (Guedioura 65); Gibbs-White, Brewster; Sharp (McBurnie 76). Substitutes unused: Foderingham, Norwood, Bogle, Ndiaye.

Referee: D Whitestone (Northants).