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Report: Sheffield United Under-18s 2 Blues Under-18s 4

Four goals from four different scorers helped keep Blues hot on the trail of leaders Wigan Athletic, at the summit of the Professional Development League.

Kieran Wakefield, Rico Patterson, Josh Williams and Jobe Bellingham were all on the scoresheet in Blues 4-2 victory in South Yorkshire.

Paul Harsley’s side didn’t have it all their own way and were pegged back twice in the second-half but Blues superior firepower proved all too much for the Blades.

The result means that Blues remain within touching distance of the unbeaten Latics.

“It was a very physical game and in all honesty we were a tad fortunate to come in 1-0 up at the break,” admitted Harsley. “Sheffield United had some good chances but when we had to defend and put bodies on the line, the lads did it well.

“I’m pleased with how the group grew stronger as the game went on. We were much the better team in the second half and eventually got our rewards.

“We’ve scored four but we also hit post, had one off the line and had a goal disallowed as well. When you create that many chances, you’re always going to score goals.

“It’s great for Kieran (Wakefield) as a central striker and it’ll do his confidence the world of good but we’re also chipping in from other areas of the pitch.

“I saw a lot of the things we’d been working on in the week and as a coach that’s the most pleasing aspect.

“We worked on dealing with their physicality and then getting in behind the opposition’s backline and we managed that on a number of occasions.”

Despite Blues attacking prowess in what was another day of challenging conditions for the Under-18s, it was the youngsters defensive showing that earned plaudits from the man in charge.

The result means Blues are keeping up with the early pace setters in the PDL but league position, at this stage of the season, is not something Harsley is fixated on.

“Sheffield United are a physical team, they’re going to test you and what they do, they do well,” Harsley added. “We had to ride out their patches of pressure in that first-half knowing we have got players in the frontline who can score goals.

“The lads stood up to the challenge really well. We blocked shots, put bodies in the way of things and there was a real determination to defend the goal at all costs.

“It’s really good to see that other side of the game from a young side. It’s not always going to be slick, attacking football.

“The players are playing for each other it’s what we want to see.

“Of course it’s nice for the players to keep one eye on the table, it gives them something to aim for.

“But I’m more concerned about developing the players and equipping them with everything they need for the next stage of their career.

“That’s my job as a coach but it’s an added bonus that they’re competing at the right end of the table.”

Blues: Brooks, Williams, Oakley, Nguepissi, Craig, Sullivan, Chang, James (Fogarty 60), Patterson, Wakefield (Bellingham 62), Miller

Not used: Browne, Barrett

Scorers: Wakefield, Patterson, Williams, Bellingham

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