Sheffield United extended their unbeaten run to 11 league games after a 2-1 victory over MK Dons.
Darren Potter cancelled out Stefan Scougall’s early opener, before Billy Sharp scored his 10th goal of the season, which proved to be enough for the Blades to secure all three points at Bramall Lane.
After a testing week for MK Dons following the departure of manager Karl Robinson after six years in charge, United showed no sympathy and landed a heavy blow in the opening minutes. Scougall, who replaced the injured Matt Done in the Blades’ starting line-up, gave the home side the lead in the fifth minute; steering the ball beyond David Martin after MK Dons failed to clear a United corner.
Scougall’s early goal got the Blades off to a positive but Chris Wilder was right when he said that MK Dons would be one of the toughest tests his side would face at Bramall Lane this season. Despite sitting just one place above the relegation zone, Dons proved a threat throughout and made the home side work hard until the final-whistle. Ben Reeves forced an early save from Blades goalkeeper Simon Moore, while the United defence had to use their height to deny crosses finding their man.
Chris Wilder switched from his favoured 3-5-2 formation – moving Chris Basham from defence to midfield – to counter the visitor’s numerical superiority in central midfield. Daniel Lafferty headed just wide for United from Kieron Freeman’s cross, before Billy Sharp and John Fleck both saw shots go wide as United were unable to extend their advantage before half-time.
The advantage did not last for much longer as Darren Potter drew the Dons back level just four minutes after the restart. Dean Lewington advanced down the left flank, before squaring it to Potter whose low driven shot found the bottom left corner.
The next period of play saw the visitors put pressure on United’s defensive organisation. Just as the momentum began to shift, Sharp put the Blades back in front in the 63rd minute with a real poacher’s goal. Scougall did brilliantly to keep the ball in play and, as the MK Dons players appeared to stop thinking that the ball had gone out of play, Sharp was on hand to tap in from close-range to score his fifth goal in three games.
There were a few nervous moments for the 20,000 supporters inside Bramall Lane as MK Dons pressed for an equaliser. Ben Reeves was unable to connect with the ball when presented with a good opportunity by George Baldock, while Dons’ top scorer Dean Bowditch fired over from Ed Upson’s corner.
Sheffield United had to work hard until the final whistle but Sharp’s goal proved to be enough to see the Blades extend their unbeaten run in the league to 11 games to keep them in fourth place in League One, three points off the automatic promotion spots.
Sheffield United 2 (Scougall, Sharp)
MK Dons 1 (Potter)
Sheffield United: Moore; Wright, Ebanks-Landell, Basham; Freeman, Coutts, Duffy (O’Connell 90), Fleck, Lafferty; Scougall (Lavery 74), Sharp. Subs not used: Ramsdale, Brown, Whiteman, Chapman, Brooks.
MK Dons: Martin; Baldock, Lewington, Walsh, Hendry; Upson, Potter, Reeves; Carruthers (Agard 28), Bowditch (Powell 79), Colclough (Maynard 61). Subs not used: GC WIliams, GB Williams, Nicholls, Downing.