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Report: Sheffield United Under-23s 0 Blues Under-23s 2

Blues were crowned Professional Development League National Champions with victory over Sheffield United on Monday afternoon.

The crowning glory provides a deserved reward for a fine season, as the Under-23s exacted revenge over a side who completed a double over them in the regular season to take home the silverware.

A commanding first-half display ultimately did the damage, as an Adan George double stunned the hosts inside the opening 15 minutes.

Blues then nullified any United threat after the break, operating superbly with a back three system and a midfield diamond that the home side had no answer to.

Success is further recognition for the Club’s impressive development programme after the Under-18s also reached their end of season play-offs.

TEAM NEWS:

Steve Spooner made two changes to the side that overcame Bristol City thanks to extra-time in the semi-final. Oliver Basey was given the nod to start between the sticks, with Jayden Reid brought in for Kyle Hurst in the Steel City.

MAIN EVENT: 

Blues made the brighter start as most of the football was played inside the Sheffield United half and this was rewarded with the opening goal after just six minutes.

Joe Redmond had been the goalscoring hero at Ashton Gate in the last-four and turned provider in classy fashion. Stepping out of the backline, Blues’ skipper progressed unattended before executing a defence-splitting pass for George. The striker, who had time, composed himself before rifling low beyond Marcus Dewhurst.

That undoubtedly settled a Blues side, who in the two league meetings had failed to score against the Blades’ but were able to deservedly double their advantage with a quarter of an hour played.

Caolan Boyd-Munce’s sweeping cross from the inside left appeared to be moving behind George, however, the striker was able to contort his body mid-leap and flick a header into the far corner for goal number two.

A third was almost added when Geraldo Bajrami met another Boyd-Munce centre, only for the towering centre-back to miscue his close-range headed attempt.

And Keyendrah Simmonds went even closer when he tried his luck from distance. The attacker who arrived from Manchester City in the January transfer window, not for the first time in the game evaded multiple United bodies before unleashing a fierce strike that Dewhurst did well to beat away.

The stopper again prevented Simmonds from getting on the scoresheet on the stroke of half-time. After a superb run from Remi Walker the ball was pulled back, with Simmonds’ drilled shot stopped by the feet of Dewhurst.

Half-time: Sheffield United 0 Blues 2

Sheffield United made a duo of changes at the break and responded to their struggles of the opening period by having greater territory at the beginning of the secon-half.

It was, though, Blues who had the latest meaningful effort. A flowing move from left to right sliced open the Blades, with Simmonds’ skidding shot fizzing a whisker wide.

The swashbuckling football continued and after Jayden Reid turned on the turbo, George tested Dewhurt’s handling with a curling hit.

There was, of course, the jarring feeling that a goal back for the side who won the northern section would create a nervy finish in South Yorkshire. But such was Blues’ control, even when United did get in behind there was always a visiting player on hand to mop up any potential danger.

And this continued defensive resilience proved enough to see the game out and bring the silverware back to the West Midlands.

KEY MOMENT:

If George’s opener was an early blow, then his second left the Blades well and truly stunned. It was as spectacular as it was decisive, adjusting remarkably to head in Boyd-Munce’s delivery.

MATCH DETAILS:

Sheffield United (3-4-3): Marcus Dewhurst, Kyron Gordon, Sam Graham, Nicksoen Gomis, Femi Seriki, Harry Boyes, Zak Brunt, Harrison Neal (captain), Andre Brooks (Antwoine Hackford 46), Hassan Ayari (Francis Maguire 46), Will Osula.

Substitutes not used: Ashton Hall, Jordan Amissah, Angelo Cappello.

Booking: None.

Blues (3-4-2-1): Oliver Basey, Geraldo Bajrami, Joe Redmond (captain), Ryan Burke, Josh Williams, Remi Walker, Caolan Boyd-Munce, Jayden Reid (Josh Andrews 76), Keyendrah Simmonds (Mitch Roberts 90+4), Adan George.

Substitutes not used: Alfie Brookes, Kyle Hurst, Kane Thompson-Sommers.

Booking: Chang 90+4.

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