Wallace, Crooks, Hammill and Loftus seal first win
Steve Eyre’s Development Squad recorded its first win in the new Under-21 Professional Development League 2, seeing off visitors Sheffield United with a good performance at Canalside Sports Complex.
The Terriers were good value for their comprehensive win over the Blades on the Canal pitches, with Adam Hammill catching the eye in a goal-scoring performance and other goals coming from Murray Wallace, Matt Crooks and Connor Loftus.
Town’s side including a smattering of experience throughout with Ian Bennett, Anthony Gerrard, Anton Robinson and Hammill featuring as overage players.
That extra quality showed throughout the first half, with Eyre’s side looking particularly dangerous at set-pieces throughout. Blades ‘keeper George Long had already flapped at one Jordan Sinnott delivery into the box in the early stages and he was powerless to prevent Scottish under-21 cap Wallace from planting a near post header into the net from another Sinnott corner as early as the second minute.
Town never looked like relinquishing that lead, with centre backs Wallace and Gerrard going close to a second from subsequent set pieces before Hammill stung the palms of the United custodian with a superb long range drive.
Sinnott’s corners were too much for the Blades defence and the tall figure of midfielder Matt Crooks made them pay in the 20th minute, finding space to tap home at the back post from a deeper delivery.
United thought they had a lifeline back into the game seven minutes later when striker Danny Philliskirk nodded home from practically on the goal-line but with the likes of Dean Hoyle, Simon Grayson and several first team players watching on the Terriers never looked like losing hold of the three points.
New signing Robbie McIntyre did have to stay alert to clear a 41st minute corner off his own line, but from that Town launched a very good attack. Crooks led the charge down the left side and advanced into the United half before releasing striker Jimmy Spencer, who showed good feet to find the space for a low drive that Long managed to claw to safety.
The visitors enjoyed their best period of the game in the opening 10 minutes of the second-half and only a stunning tip onto the bar by the experienced Bennett prevented United midfielder Matthew Harriott from equalising with a brilliant 30 yard drive.
However, usual service was soon resumed; first Wallace went close with another header from a corner that flashed wide and then Hammill took centre stage. The winger was brought down on the edge of the box, but picked himself up to fire a superb 25 yard free-kick past Long and into the bottom right corner.
As the final ten minutes approached the Blades, managed by Chris Morgan, were pushing to try and find a way into the game. Steve Eyre was urging his players to use the channels and that call paid off – a ball down the line from right back Tom Smith found substitute striker Connor Loftus and the former Bury man battled to keep possession before firing low to Long’s right side to make it 4-1.
Town’s team (4-3-3):
Ian Bennett; Robbie McIntyre, Murray Wallace, Anthony Gerrard (Joe Wright 66), Tom Smith; Jordan Sinnott, Chris Atkinson, Anton Robinson; Adam Hammill (Dale Hopson 66), Jimmy Spencer (Connor Loftus 70), Matt Crooks