Sheffield United extended their unbeaten run to eight games with a comfortable 4-0 victory over Port Vale at Bramall Lane.
Defender Ethan Ebanks-Landell scored a first-half brace, before second-half goals from Mark Duffy and substitute Stefan Scougall rounded off a brilliant win for Chris Wilder’s side, which sees the Blades leapfrog their opponents in the League One table.
After an enforced weekend off because of international call-ups, the Blades carried the momentum from their last-gasp equaliser against Fleetwood two weeks ago into the game, which saw their opponents travel to South Yorkshire in fourth place.
Despite sitting two points above Sheffield, Vale were no match for the hosts and the visitors were close to going behind early on. Jack O’Connell saw his header go just beyond the far post from Duffy’s in-swinging free-kick.
United were the more dangerous going forward in the opening period, but were unable to find the opening goal until the 23rd minute. Wing-back Kieron Freeman nearly bundled home Matt Done’s flick-on in the 14th minute. Thirty seconds later, Freeman produced a goal-saving tackle to deny Anthony Grant putting the visitors ahead at the other end.
The offside flag then denied the Blades breaking the deadlock after Done headed home, one of four ‘goals’ the home side had disallowed for offside. Chris Wilder did not have to wait long until he saw his side take the lead as Ebanks-Landell powered his header past Jak Alnwick from John Fleck’s corner to score his second goal in as many games.
United thought they had doubled their lead just after the half-hour mark after Fleck’s shot from the edge of the area beat Alnwick. But as Bramall Lane and the United players celebrated, the referee consulted with his linesman before deeming the ball had touched Billy Sharp, standing in an offside decision, much to the disproval of the home supporters.
Fleck went close again moments later, but this time the midfielder was denied by Alnwick, who had to be at full stretch to push Fleck’s 30-yard effort around the post. The Vale goalkeeper was unable to stop Ebanks-Landell scoring his and United’s second goal of the game on the stroke of half-time. The centre-back acrobatically put the ball into the back of the net with a scissor kick after Vale failed to clear to give the hosts a two-goal cushion at half-time.
Sheffield had another ‘goal’ disallowed two minutes into the second-half, before they successfully increased their lead in the 62nd minute. Sharp’s initial effort was blocked on the line by Vale captain Ben Purkiss, but Duffy was on hand to fire the ball home from close-range.
Sharp thought he had scored United’s fourth after tapping home, but instead looked up to see the assistant referee’s flag deny Chris Wilder’s for the fourth time. Vale’s Alex Jones was then denied his eighth goal of the season by a good save from United goalkeeper Simon Moore.
Blades substitute Stefan Scougall rounded off a brilliant performance with Sheffield’s fourth goal in the 83rd minute. The 5ft 7in midfielder headed the ball past Alnwick after Sharp saw his header saved from Chris Hussey’s cross to move the Blades up to 5th in League One with 21 points from 12 games.
Next-up for the Blades is a trip to Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday night as they look to extend their unbeaten run to nine games.
Sheffield United 4 (Ebanks-Landell 2, Duffy, Scougall)
Port Vale 0
Sheffield United: Moore, Wright, Ebanks-Landell, O’Connell, Freeman, Coutts, Duffy (Chapman 72’), Fleck, Lafferty (Hussey 69’), Done (Scougall 81’), Sharp.
Port Vale: Alnwick, Purkiss, Streete, Smith, Knops, Jones, Amoros (Pereira 59’), Grant, Hart, Foley (Geraldo Rosa 81’), Paterson (Turner 67’).