Sheffield United's patience pays off as two-goal John Fleck makes up for booking

John Fleck scores his and Sheffield United's second goal against Aston Villa
John Fleck scores his and Sheffield United's second goal against Aston Villa
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For the second Bramall Lane game running, Sheffield United were forced to play a game of patience. This time they came out on top.

Aston Villa took a leaf out of Newcastle United's book and doing their best to frustrate the Blades and their fans. Unlike the Magpies, though, they were unable to score an early goal to defend. They never really looked like doing so either in the first half but in truth, neither did Sheffield United.

They persevered, though, and found a way through with two second-half goals for John Fleck.

It could have been a bit more twitchy had Jack Grealish not smashed a penalty against the crossbar, but the 2-0 scoreline was no less than the Blades deserved and the feel-good factor around Bramall Lane shows no sign of relenting. The three points moved them up to fifth in the Premier League.

It took a bit of skill and cleverness to break the deadlock and this being Sheffield United, it came from one of their centre-backs.

As usual, Chris Basham was high up the pitch as his team attacked down the right and his backheel freed John Lundstram to put in the cross his fellow central midfielder Fleck touched in, to make amends for his earlier booking.

With 51 minutes gone, and with Oli McBurnie off the bench to take advantage of his team's many crossing positions, Villa had to come out and play.

They did, Wesley and Grealish finding the side netting in quick succession, but once their noses were in front, Chris Wilder's side never relinquished their lead.

They doubled it after 73 minutes, Fleck arriving late in the box again. The songs that greeted it were not for him but the creator, David McGoldrick, who had played a cute ball over the top to find the Scot.

The centre-forward is yet to score this season, but the Blades fans appreciate his worth.

The game might have turned in the 76th minute when a Grealish ball across flicked up and John Egan leaned his hand into it. Referee Peter Bankes waved play on but VAR is no friend of Sheffield United's and when the ball went out of play, a spot kick was awarded on review. It was the correct decision and good use of the controversial technology.

Grealish, though, wasted the opportunity, hitting his kick into the crossbar as Dean Henderson dived left.

Fleck might have had a hat-trick after 88 minutes, sent through on the counter-attack, but with the matchball on the brain he spurned the chance to square for McGoldrick and the pass he eventually played to Lundstram took the sting out of the attack.

The first half was little to write home about, with Villa content to sit back and soak up what the Blades had to offer. The hosts' 59 per cent possession produced the only three shots of the opening 45 minutes.

There were, though, two yellow cards, Oliver Norwood putting himself on a booking after just 12 minutes for bringing down John McGinn as the midfielder threatened to break into the Blades' half. When Fleck followed him into Bankes's notebook five minutes later – for a foul on Frederic Guilbert – it earned a one-match suspension for next week's long trip to Brighton and Hove Albion.

He more than made up for it in the end.

Sheffield United: Henderson; Basham, Egan, O'Connell; Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood (Besic 86), Fleck, Stevens; McGoldrick (Osborn 90), Mousset (McBurnie 61).

Unused substitutes: Freeman, Sharp, Jagielka, Moore.

Aston Villa: Heaton; Guilbert, Engels, Hause, Targett; Nakamba; El Ghazi (Trezeguet 79), McGinn, Lansbury (Luiz 66), Grealish; Wesley (Kodja 69).

Unused substitutes: Taylor, Konsa, Nyland, Elmohamady.

Referee: Peter Bankes.