Sheffield United 3-1 Crewe Alexandra: Blades era under Clough off to best possible start

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I went and saw how Nigel Clough got on in his first game as Sheffield United boss for Forge Sport

A pair of headers for Harry Maguire and a Ryan Flynn solo effort gave Nigel Clough the dream start to life as Sheffield United manager, as the Blades ran out comfortable 3-1 winners against Crewe at Bramall Lane.

18,784 spectators, this season’s highest at home, gave Clough a rousing reception before kick-off, and the new manager must have soon wondered how his new club find themselves in such a precarious league position.

United had the worst goal-scoring record in League One prior to kick-off, but it took just 17 minutes for the first goal of Clough’s reign. Midfielder Stephen McGinn chased down a loose clearance and won a free-kick deep on the left hand side after a heavy challenge. After recovering well enough to take it, his cross was met by centre half Harry Maguire, who found himself unmarked and stooped low to head in.

It was exactly what the home crowd needed. There had been a distinct tension around the ground in the early stages as Crewe settled well.

Suddenly, United had confidence to attack with greater freedom, and it paid off on the half hour. In an action replay of the first goal, a McGinn corner from the left reached Maguire, who again unmarked, nodded in at the far post to give the Blades a well-deserved two goal lead at the interval.

The second half started with a scare for United, when Crewe’s Anthony Grant got into a good position down the left and crossed for Byron Moore, who skied over when he should have scored despite taking the ball on the volley.

If that was a let-off for United, then they really rubbed Crewe’s nose in it just two minutes later. Ryan Flynn, who looked dangerous down United’s right all afternoon, collected the ball 35 yards from goal and drove at the Crewe defence, before beating Crewe keeper Steve Phillips with a low shot at his near post.

United looked likely to add more goals when Taylor, King and Collins all went close.

But it was the introduction of Chuks Aneke and Max Clayton for the visitors which brought them back into the game. After heading against the bar a minute earlier, the bright Aneke then fed Clayton who ran in behind the United back four and slotted home with 15 minutes remaining.

The Blades spent the last part of the game penned in their own half as Crewe pushed for another, but the new boss was able to breathe a sigh of relief as the Blades picked up a valuable three points.

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