Derby County fell to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in their final game before the first international break of the 2017/18 season.
Blades captain Billy Sharp opened the scoring for the home side inside the opening five minutes and just before half time, an own goal from Johnny Russell put the hosts ahead by two.
Gary Rowett’s side did manage to get one back in the 91st minute of play, but a 98th minute goal from Sharp saw the home side eventually secure victory and extend their unbeaten home record to 11 matches in the League.
Things couldn’t have started much worse for Rowett’s side after the Blades were gifted an early lead.
With the ball in Derby’s half, a short, first-time, clearance from Scott Carson was sent into the path of Sharp and Sheffield United’s captain acted quickly to place the ball into the back of an open net.
The hosts were not afraid of a shot in the game’s early stages as Chris Wilder’s side looked to steal the fixture from Derby quickly by adding to their tally.
Derby’s best outlet over the first half, on the wide Bramall Lane pitch, was their counter attack and Andreas Weimann, Matej Vydra and Johnny Russell all had chances to equalise through that.
With their attacking efforts not coming to fruition, the hosts managed to grab a vital second on 40 minutes after an attempted clearance from Russell to clear the ball ends up in the back of his own net.
The pressure was on for Rowett’s side and in the second half they pushed hard to try and halve the deficit.
The hosts stubbornness, though, proved to be hard to break down and Derby were unable to carve out any real opportunities to get themselves back into the game.
In added time, this match sprung to life as Bryson, on as a substitute, cut the score to 2-1 by heading in Bradley Johnson’s cross to set up a grandstand finish.
And with it all to play for, in the final minute of the game, Carson opted to get forward for the last free-kick, however, an interception and a long ball forward left Sharp with the simple task of placing the ball in the back of the net to seal the Blades’ win.
Sheffield United: Blackman, Stevens, Fleck, O’Connell, Basham, Sharp (C), Wright, Coutts, Freeman, Duffy (Carruthers, 64; Lundstram, 80), Lavery (Evans, 54)
Substitutes not used: Carter-Vickers, Lafferty, Eastwood, Brooks
Derby County: Carson, Wisdom, Keogh, Davies, Olsson, Huddlestone, Johnson, Weimann (Bryson, 71), Vydra, Russell (Lawrence, 57), Nugent (Martin, 57)
Substitutes not used: Baird, Pearce, Butterfield, Mitchell
Attendance: 26,202 (2,367 Derby Supporters)
In between, falling a goal down and the Blades scoring their second, Derby were enjoying plenty of joy on the counter attack.
On the wide Bramall Lane pitch, the Rams’ attacking players got themselves into good positions and shortly after the half an hour mark, the visitors should have got themselves back level.
The major moment of this fixture fell to Matej Vydra after he was played through on goal by Johnny Russell and only had Jamal Blackman to beat… or so he thought.
Bearing down on goal, he looked destined to level matters until John Fleck, the midfielder, caught up with him and produced an outstanding last-gasp challenge to deny the Czech Republic international a clean shot on goal.
Four minutes later, the Blades doubled their advantage and left Rowett’s side with a mountain to climb.
Until the end, the effort and determination from Derby captain Richard Keogh was evident.
Though defensively it wasn’t the Rams’ strongest game, Keogh found himself on the ball on numerous occasions and looked to get the ball forward at every opportunity, whether that was by taking it himself or through his accurate distribution.
On top of that, Bryson made an impact coming off the substitutes bench and halved the deficit as he continues to stake a claim to return to the starting line-up.
With the first stage of the season done and dusted, Rowett’s side now enter the first international break of the 2017/18 campaign.
Whilst the likes of Tom Lawrence, Richard Keogh, Alex Pearce, Chris Martin and Ikechi Anya could all link up with their respective nations, the rest of squad will stay back to prepare for the visit of Hull City on Friday 8th September at Pride Park Stadium.