Sheffield United Reserves 0 Derby County Reserves 4
Sheffield United’s reserve team finished the totesport.com League Central Division season as runners-up, after yesterday’s heavy defeat to newly-crowned champions Derby County at Bramall Lane.
Sheffield United could have won the title with a victory, while the Rams’ reserves only needed a draw to secure a first-place finish.
First half goals
The visitors made a positive start to the match when they went in-front, after just six minutes, when Callum Ball’s defence splitting pass found Chris Porter, who rounded goalkeeper Mihkel Aksalu to tap the ball into the net.
The former Oldham Athletic striker’s finish was controversial, as there were calls for the goal to be ruled offside, but it stood to give Derby County a 1-0 lead.
Ball had the opportunity to extend the visitors’ lead, just a couple of minutes later, after linking well with Porter, but his long-range shot was comfortably saved by Aksalu.
The home side also had an opportunity to equalise but Kingsley James’ shot went wide, after he connected well with Jordan Chapell’s cross.
Derby County continued to build pressure and Lee Croft’s strike went over the bar, on the 15th minute, after some good link-up play with Ball and Porter.
Croft doubled the Rams’ lead, on the 19th minute, after Porter latched onto a long-ball from Ben Pringle.
Aksalu saved Porter’s shot with his leg, but the rebound fell into the path of Croft and the former Manchester City winger’s lob beat the Estonian goalkeeper.
The Blades nearly got a goal back, just two minutes later, when Erik Tønne was set up by Marc Warren to slot the ball past goalkeeper Ross Atkins.
The young Norwegian midfielder’s effort, though, was ruled out for offside.
Aksalu then had to be at his best to save efforts from Jeff Hendrick and Porter, as the first half drew to a close.
A dominant display
Derby County continued to dominate and they scored their third goal, just two minutes into the second-half, when Porter headed home Croft’s deflected cross from close range.
The away side created more chances as Aksalu, on the 50th minute, tipped away Conor Doyle’s effort.
Former Crystal Palace midfielder David Martin also wasted a chance to extend the Rams’ lead, after 53 minutes, when his tame attempt went wide.
Aksalu was forced to make an outstanding double save for the Blades, after 59 minutes, when he made a point-blank save from Porter and then parried away substitute Alex Witham’s rebound.
Porter managed to complete his hat trick on the 61st minute, to further Sheffield United’s misery, when he connected with Davies’ through-ball and scored from 17 yards.
The Rams could have got a fifth goal, on the 76th minute, when Miles Addison’s header forced a fine save from Aksalu.
András Gárdos and Danny Philliskirk, meanwhile, squandered late chances for the Blades, as Derby County’s victory ensured that they finished the season six points ahead of Sheffield United.
Sheffield United Reserves: Aksalu, Brown, Roe, Løkberg, James, Warren, Chapell (Gárdos, 55), Philliskirk, Tønne (Pennycooke-Morgan, 79), Adams (Ahmadi, 65), Edgar.
Derby County Reserves: Atkins, Davies, Pringle, Hendrick (Jones, 74), Addison, Leacock, Croft, Porter, Ball (Witham, 46), Doyle (Connolly, 74), Martin.
Goalscorers: Porter (6, 47, 61), Croft (19)
This match report was published by JUS News on 4 May 2011.