Sheffield United suffered another defeat, this time at the hands of La Liga outfit Girona. The two sides were evenly matched until the Blades conceded two late goals. However, much like their previous match against Rotherham, the game proved to be a valuable practice session for several key first-team players.
Blades XI: Davies, Seriki, Ahmedhodžić (Sachdev 76), Egan (Barratt 76), Freckleton (Gomis 76), Lowe (Buyabu 76), Slimane (Maguire 63), Berge (Dickinson 76), Fleck (Smith 18), Marsh (Macedo 76), Osula (Hackford 76)
Unused Subs: Amissah, Stainland, Blacker, Drake.
During the initial stages of the game, Girona dominated possession but struggled to pose a real threat, largely due to United’s relentless pressing and determination to push up the pitch. Unfortunately, United faced a setback when Fleck had to be taken off due to an injury caused by a challenge from Herrera in the 18th minute.
The Blades had the first promising chance on goal through Lowe, who received the ball after a tackle and an exquisite clipped pass by Slimane. Lowe made a powerful attempt from the angle that rattled the crossbar, with Gazzaniga beaten.
United subsequently earned a couple of corners that were expertly delivered by Slimane, but Egan and then Freckleton couldn’t find the target with their headers.
In the 35th minute, Girona missed a clear opportunity to take the lead after a collaboration between Blind and Stuani set up Savio. Despite evading Davies, Savio’s shot hit the post and was ultimately gathered by the Blades stopper.
The second half saw a more open game with chances for both teams. Davies had to make a great save to tip Garcia’s dipping effort over the bar. The Blades had their opportunities as well, with Ahmedhodžić firing into the side-netting and Osula shooting over the bar as he tried to lift the ball over Gazzaniga.
Unfortunately for United, it was Girona who managed to break the deadlock in the 74th minute through the impressive Savio, who cleverly slotted the ball between Lowe’s legs and into the far corner, utilising the inside of the post. United made several substitutions in response, with only Davies and Seriki playing the full game.
In the dying moments of the match, Maguire forced an error from Gazzaniga, but substitute Macedo couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity due to a tight angle. In added time, Torre secured a second goal for Girona to seal their victory.
It was another defeat for Sheffield United but another good test against a real technical team in Girona. The Blades are next in action on Saturday when they entertain Derby County at Pride Park.
After the full-time whistle, Paul Heckingbottom gave his verdict on the match:
“Some good bits. We split the squad so for some of our players it was a real test but in terms of organisation, how we stuck at it, it was good against a really technical team. They finished mid-table last season so it was a good stretch.” [SUTV]
“Some bits I’m pleased with, we need to be better. The bits we wanted to work on, how disciplined we were without the ball but still aggressive and on the front foot and high energy tempo. I think our chances came from when we regained it high. All in all a really good outing, 75 minutes for the boys who’ll be involved come the first game of the season and a big test and an eye opener for the younger boys.”