Blades 1 Oldham 0: United get the job Done

Che Adams, later sent off, congratulates  Matt Done for the goal which put Sheffield United into the FA Cup third round. Picture Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Che Adams, later sent off, congratulates Matt Done for the goal which put Sheffield United into the FA Cup third round. Picture Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Sheffield United secured their place in the FA Cup third round draw by edging past Oldham Athletic this afternoon.

Matt Done scored the only goal of a hard-fought contest which tested the determination and durability of Nigel Adkins’ squad following Che Adams’ second-half dismissal.

Despite being surrounded by defenders, Che Adams gets in a shot.  Picture Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Despite being surrounded by defenders, Che Adams gets in a shot. Picture Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Athletic upped the ante as the final whistle approached, with George Long saving bravely at Dominic Poleon’s feet after Jake Cassidy had earlier wasted a glaring chance, but United’s nerve held.

Done’s fourth strike of the season - and first since his effort at Boundary Park in October - was deserved reward for an individual shift full of industry and effort. Likewise the applause the former Rochdale forward received when he was substituted towards the end.

But an injury to Bob Harris and red card for Adams, which will rule the youngster out of United’s next three games, took the shine-off United’s afternoon.

Harris left the stadium on a stretcher following a scramble in United’s penalty area during the first-half while Adams was dismissed after reacting to a challenge with Oldham’s captain Liam Kelly. Barring an appeal, he will miss the crucial games against Coventry City, Scunthorpe and Wigan Athletic.

Despite reaching the semi-finals the season before last, this term’s FA Cup competition has clearly not captured the imagination of many supporters at Bramall Lane. A crowd of only 6,938 - the club’s second lowest of the campaign - filed through the turnstiles to watch Adkins’ side lock horns with their League One rivals for the right to earn a place in Monday’s third round draw.

They were treated to a match which, for the most part, could best be described as a slow-burn. Until, that was, Done broke the deadlock almost immediately after half-time. Done has endured a frustrating start to life under the new regime - with injury and selection policy both stalling his progress - but, following his relentless performance at Barnsley last weekend - is fast cementing a place in the team.

VIDEO: Nigel Adkins praises players but questions Che Adams’ red card

{ The Star’s James Shield gives his take on United’s 1-0 win over Oldham|CLICK HERE}

Jay McEveley also pressed his case with an unruffled display at the heart of a rearguard which, until the closing stages, largely kept Oldham Athletic at arms length. David Dunn’s players demonstrated some neat touches, particularly when they worked the ball around in midfield, but Adams dismissal in the 67th minute truly handed them the initiative. Cassidy was guilty of spurning a glorious chance to equalise following the youngster’s departure when he headed the ball into the turf and over Long’s crossbar. Brayford followed suit soon after but United held-on.

Adkins, despite conceding that arresting their recent poor form in the league must be United’s number one priority, reaffirmed his committment to this tournament before kick-off. He demonstrated it too by naming a strong starting eleven, including the likes of John Brayford, Dean Hammond and Billy Sharp, while recalling McEveley and Che Adams.

Done saw a deflected shot palmed away by David Cornell during the early exchanges before Danny Philliskirk, one of three former United players in the visitors’ squad, was the width of a post away from giving Oldham a 14th minute advantage. Another, Mark Yeates, delivered the clever free-kick which carved the opening. Adams appeared keen to seize the initiative and, soon after, saw a goalbound effort blocked by Philliskirk at the other end of the pitch. Soon after, he produced a perfectly angled slide-rule pass after ghosting across the edge of the penalty area but, for once, Basham was not alert to the possibilities which had opened-up. After a promising beginning, the contest was meandering towards half-time until Harris left the pitch on a stretcher. Sharp was also withdrawn, this time during the interval, with Stefan Scougall entering the fray. It was Done, though, who broke the deadlock when he squeezed the ball beyond the advancing Cornell in front of The Kop. Adams received a straight red card after tangling with Kelly and, as he reluctantly trudged off, was clearly distraught by referee Eddie Ilderton’s decision.

Cassidy should have levelled soon after when he met Joseph Mills’ cross but his downwards headed bounced-up off the pitch and spiralled over the crossbar. Brayford smashed a fierce drive against the woodwork and Long saved bravely at the feet of Oldham substitute Dominic Poleon as the tie opened-up.

Sheffield United: Long, Harris (K Wallace 45), Brayford, Basham, Coutts, Sharp (Scougall 46), Done (Sammon 84), Collins, McEveley, Adams, Hammond. Not used: Howard, Flynn, Reed, McGahey.

Oldham Athletic: Cornell, Mills, Dieng, Wilson, Kelly, Jones, Philliskirk (Poleon 72), Cassidy, Winchester, Wilson, Yeates (Rasulo 77). Not used: Coleman, Vassell, Eckersley, Edmundson, Tuohy.

Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne and Wear),