Sheffield United returned to the top of League One after a convincing 4-0 victory over AFC Wimbledon.
James Hanson scored on his debut after Billy Sharp had put the Blades in front after just two minutes. Second-half goals from John Fleck and substitute Caolan Lavery completed the emphatic victory, which ended United’s winless streak.
Chris Wilder made two changes to the team that lost 2-0 at home to Fleetwood Town as the Blades boss looked to rediscover the winning formula after three games without a win. Jake Wright replaced Chris Basham in defence, while striker James Hanson made his Blades debut after signing from Bradford City in the January transfer window.
Wimbledon feared the worst when they conceded the opening goal after just two minutes. James Shea was unable to gather Fleck’s free-kick and Billy Sharp was waiting to pounce as the ball rebounded off the Wimbledon goalkeeper. The Blades captain was in the right place at the right time to bundle the ball home from close-range to score his 19th goal of the season.
After their early goal, Blades controlled the game for long periods, but Wimbledon remained a threat. Jake Reeves tried his luck from distance, but his dipping shot was comfortable for Blades goalkeeper Simon Moore. At the other end, Mark Duffy did well to create space inside the box, but, as he looked to find the far corner, he instead found the hands of Shea.
James Hanson impressed on his debut; his presence alone caused Wimbledon problems, and he linked up well with Sharp. His first sight of goal came in the 35th minute, but his header looped over the crossbar and landed on the roof of the net. Two minutes later, Hanson found the back of the net to open his goal account for the Blades just 37 minutes into his debut.
Kieron Freeman had the opportunity to shoot, but he saw Hanson in a better position unmarked eight-yards out and unselfishly played the ball to the striker. Hanson powered the ball towards goal and, despite the efforts of Barry Fuller on the goal line, the Wimbledon captain was unable to stop Hanson extending Sheffield’s lead.
Billy Sharp will have been disappointed not to have added to his goal tally in the second-half as he had a flurry of chances at the beginning of the period. Sharp dragged a shot wide of the post when under pressure from two defenders, before he was unable to direct the ball towards the goal as he stretched to reach Lafferty’s ball into the box.
The Blades captain found himself in another good position after Duffy’s ball put the Sheffield captain through on goal, but his lob was straight at the advancing Shea. Further chances followed for the Blades as Lafferty saw his flicked header go wide of the post, before Mark Duffy’s drilled effort went narrowly wide of the foot of the post.
Fortunately for the Blades the missed opportunities didn’t have an influence on the overall result and, with 10 minutes remaining, Fleck put the game beyond doubt. The midfielder produced a delightful piece of skill to leave Paul Robinson rooted to the spot, before finishing coolly past Shea. Substitute Caolan Lavery completed the rout in stoppage time with a composed finish to move the Blades two points clear of Scunthorpe at the top of League One.