Nick Blackman’s penalty against his former club saw Derby County record their third successive pre-season victory with a 1-0 win over Sheffield United.
The 26-year-old converted shortly after the half hour mark for the visitors after they had been awarded a penalty for an adjudged handball.
Though there were no further goals, the meeting with the Blades proved another strong workout for Derby, who had eight players get 90 minutes under their belts, in what was their penultimate pre-season fixture.
Showing a completely different XI to the team that defeated Chesterfield 2-1 the night before, this was also big opportunity to take another look at his squad with little over a week until the curtain raiser of the new season.
Getting a feel for the game, Derby started spritely in possession without creating too much in front of goal – Blackman, returning to one of his old stomping grounds, fired over a free kick early on in what was the only early notable chance for the Rams.
Chris Wilder’s side were restricted to very little in front of Scott Carson’s goal also, as Matty Done dragged an effort wide shortly after the 15-minute mark, whilst the Rams’ backline also dealt with the numerous crosses that were delivered into dangerous areas.
After Tom Ince blazed high wide with a first time effort, Pearson’s men took the lead after Darren Deadman, the referee, pointed to the penalty spot after James Wilson was adjudged to have handled in the area.
Blackman assumed control of the ball and planted it high beyond George Long after a stuttered run up for his first goal of Derby’s pre-season campaign.
The Rams ended strongly from there as Ince forced Long, the young goalkeeper, into another save as Carson’s goal remained untroubled going into half time interval.
The second 45 minutes largely followed the same pattern as both teams spent a large proportion of time cancelling each other out in the middle of the park, whilst passing from both sides was a little wayward and slow at times.
Marc McNulty did manage to squeeze an effort wide, whilst new signing John Fleck drove a high effort well over the crossbar with just under 20 minutes remaining.
Looking solid, Pearson’s men saw this contest out, comfortably holding on to their 1-0 advantage and managed to create a couple of late chances in the dying embers at Bramall Lane.
Ince, after advancing into the area, saw a low effort deflected for a corner and later Timi Max Elsnik, who continues to impress this pre-season, saw a powerful effort saved by Long with three minutes remaining.
Deadman called time on the encounter soon after as the Rams backed up their wins at Walsall and Chesterfield with a hard fought third successive win over a Sheffield United side with strong ambitions of securing promotion from the third tier this coming term.
Sheffield United: Long, Brayford, Hussey, Fleck, O’Connell, Basham, McNulty, Sharp, Done, Wilson, Duffy
Substitutes: Scougall, Adams, Ramsdale, Wright, Coutts, Wallace, Freeman, Reed, Whiteman, Clarke
Derby County: Carson, Christie (Stabana 61), Olsson (Cover 71), Johnson, Shackell, Keogh, Butterfield, Blackman (Elsnik, 85), Martin, Hughes, Ince
Substitutes not used: Camara, Grant, Babos, Vernam, Gordon, Rawson
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