Sheffield Wednesday Under-23s secured a crucial win in the “mini” Steel City derby at Hillsborough, making it a double over Sheffield United this season.
Leo Gaxha put the visitors ahead on 19 minutes before Fraser Preston equalised right at the end of the first half.
Preston made it a brace early in the second half to give the Owls the advantage in the PDL North relegation battle.
Surprisingly, neither Wednesday or United featured any unused substitutes from the first-teams’ midweek FA Cup exploits, a 1-0 exit to Manchester City and a 1-0 win at Reading respectively.
Preslav Borukov scored in the Owls’ 1 – 0 victory at Bramall Lane in November, but Wednesday had only won two of their last ten ahead of Friday’s evening.
United overcame Bolton Wanderers 2 – 1 on Monday to end an eight-game winless run, while the hosts went down 1 – 0 at Wigan.
Wednesday looked the brighter of the two sides early on, winning a corner in the third minute after Fraser Preston’s shot at the back post was blocked.
Jake Eastwood claimed the delivery although his clearance was unconvincing and nearly put the Blades back under pressure.
The visitors went ahead on 19 minutes though, as Callum Gribbin slid LEO GAXHA in on goal, and the Blades number 10 slotted it into the bottom-right corner. Wednesday 0 – 1 United.
Wednesday spent the minutes following the goal passing around the back, without threatening Eastwood’s goal at the Leppings Lane end.
Jake Young came close to doubling the Blades’ advantage on 35 minutes but his half-volley went narrowly wide of Render’s right post.
The visitors created more quality chances in the first period and took a throw quickly on 42 minutes, but Callum Gribbin’s cross-cum-shot didn’t trouble Josh Render and only found the side netting.
The Blades defence looked like dealing with everything Wednesday threw at them in the first period, but the hosts equalised with the last kick of the half.
Conor Grant slid a nice reverse ball between the Sheffield United centre-backs and FRASER PRESTON finished under Jake Eastwood. Wednesday 1 – 1 United.
HALF-TIME: SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY U23 1 – 1 SHEFFIELD UNITED U23
Jake Young nearly put United back ahead shortly after the break as he took it past two Wednesday defenders and shot from the edge of the area.
His low effort scuffed the outside of the post and rolled agonisingly wide.
Wednesday went ahead on 52 minutes through PRESTON who got on the end of a dinked ball from midfield to finish under Eastwood for the second time.
There weren’t too many chances of note until United substitute Antwoine Hackford stole onto a lax pass from Josh Dawodu and crossed.
Young fired from point-blank range and Render had to make what looked like a painful save with his chest to deny a Blades equaliser.
Render was called back into action on 77 minutes as Gaxha took aim from the edge of the area and the Wednesday keeper had to make a stunning save low to his left to keep the Owls ahead.
Nicksoen Gomis and Ben Hughes clashed heads in the Wednesday area with just a few minutes to go. Hughes was eventually able to continue but Gomis had to be replaced for the remainder of proceedings.
FULL-TIME: SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY U23 2 – 1 SHEFFIELD UNITED U23
Wednesday U23s travel to the Trillion Trophy Training Centre on Friday March 13 to face Birmingham City, while Sheffield United next host another Yorkshire rival in Leeds United at Bramall Lane.
Sheffield Wednesday: Render, Dawodu, Galvin, Brennan, Rice (Thompson 56′), Lee, Hidalgo, Shaw, O’Brien, Grant, Preston.
Unused subs: Jackson, Hughes, Stobbs, West.
Goals: Preston 45′, 52′.
Sheffield United: Eastwood, Williams, Boyes, Ferguson, Belehouan, Gomis, Brunt, Slater, Young, Gaxha, Gribbin.
Unused subs: Amissah, Neal, Hackford, Grant, Brooks.
Goals: Gaxha 19′.