2017-18 English League Championship, Regular Season
  • Billy Sharp (39')

Sheffield United's Championship return starts with win over Brentford

Sheffield United marked their return to the Sky Bet Championship with a 1-0 victory over Brentford at Bramall Lane.
Blades skipper Billy Sharp continued his fine goal-scoring form from last season to head in the only goal of the game in the 39th minute, as United secured all three points.
The visitors' full-back Henrik Dalsgaard tested the United defence with an early cross. The Blades then threatened themselves, as Samir Carruthers and Sharp combined well to allow new-boy Enda Stevens to put in a teasing cross for Leon Clarke. Clarke could not quite connect, though, and his header drifted wide.
Brentford's highly sought-after forward Jota played some clever one-twos with Dalsgaard to work their way into the United box, but Richard Stearman, a new arrival at the Blades, cleared the danger just as Jota was pulling the trigger.
Jota continued to threaten the United defence, firstly playing a cute reverse pass to Lasse Vibe, who fluffed his lines before getting on the end of Ryan Woods' excellent through ball, but he also could not provide an end product.
Stevens, who arrived from Portsmouth this summer, then produced a spectacular long-range drive and saw his effort smack the post.
The home side stepped up a gear after the Stevens effort, causing panic in the Brentford box with two consecutive corners and Chris Basham had a penalty appeal waved away by referee Stephen Martin.
Clarke then produced his worst and finest work of the afternoon, firstly missing the ball in an attempt at goal before regaining his composure to deliver a looping cross which Sharp (39) powerfully headed past Daniel Bentley to give United the lead.
Clarke started the second half positively, powering his way past Rico Henry and put another cross straight onto Sharp's head. The Blades captain couldn't produce the same result though, with Bentley catching it comfortably.
United then had two goals ruled out for offside. Firstly, Clarke had a close-range effort ruled out before Sharp was denied a brace after he tapped in the rebound from John Fleck's driven free-kick. The Bees also saw Vibe have a goal disallowed for offside, after he headed in the rebound from Jota's curling effort.
Vibe should have brought the scores level when he was through on goal, but Kieron Freeman recovered quickly to make a vital tackle and keep the Denmark international off the score sheet.
Brentford had another shot at evening the scores as they countered from a corner quickly with Woods playing a great ball in behind for debutant Neal Maupay, but Jamal Blackman delighted the home fans once again by smothering his effort to hold onto his clean sheet.

English League Championship Standings

1 West Bromwich Albion 20 +21 45
2 Leeds United 20 +20 43
3 Fulham 20 +11 35
4 Bristol City 20 +5 35
5 Nottingham Forest 19 +10 33
6 Sheffield Wednesday 20 +9 32
7 Preston North End 20 +6 31
8 Cardiff City 20 +3 31
9 Brentford 20 +14 30
10 Blackburn Rovers 20 0 30
11 Swansea City 20 0 30
12 Hull City 20 +5 29
13 Birmingham City 20 -4 28
14 Queens Park Rangers 20 -7 28
15 Millwall 20 -2 27
16 Derby County 20 -6 25
17 Charlton Athletic 20 -1 23
18 Reading 19 -2 21
19 Middlesbrough 20 -10 20
20 Luton Town 20 -14 20
21 Huddersfield Town 20 -11 18
22 Wigan Athletic 20 -15 16
23 Stoke City 20 -14 14
24 Barnsley 20 -18 12