Blades ease past Vale

Last updated : 13 August 2008 By Jamie Furniss

United made eight changes to the squad of which started against Birmingham on Saturday. Darius Henderson, Matthew Spring and David Cotterill all made their home debuts in front of 7694 fans.

Lee Hendrie, Stephen Quinn and Danny Webber all put the ball into the net on a chilly evening at the Lane. Luke Rodgers recorded the Valiant's only goal of the game.

The little of Port Vale fans that travelled to Sheffield were making much noise and were geared up to what will have been one of their biggest matches of the campaign.

Port Vale started the game the best with Griffith threading the ball through to Perry but Ehiogu knocked away the ball to halt Vale taking the lead early on. Henderson's brace of chances didn't trouble Anyon in the League 2 outfits net.

The Blades were close to breaking the deadlock with Stephen Quinn's shot not far wide. More Blades efforts were easily caught by Anyon. This time debutant Matthew Spring headed is header into the direction of the goalkeepers palms. Henderson then repeated that and did the same.

Quinn was in a similar position to what he was in his previous attempt. This time he managed to get his shot on target but was fingertipped away by the Vale goalie.

Henderson had a scuffle in the six yard area with a few Vale defenders but he couldn't poke the ball into the net. Vale started to come back into the game as they created chance after chance. A corner was headed away well by Henderson which met Cotterill who could test a couple of defenders and could cross to Spring.

Spring laid the ball off to Lee Hendrie who smashed the ball into the top right-hand corner and put down the marker for the Blades first goal of the 2008/2009 campaign.

The Valiant's refused to give up and surged onto another attack. They won another corner but didn't trouble anyone. The half-time whistle was blown after the 1 indicated minute was up.

Only the one change was made at the halfway mark. Luke Rodgers replaced Shane Taylor. Play was stopped for a few minutes when Ehiogu and Geary bumped into each other in mid-air and treatment was needed. Both retrieved to their feet and play continued.

Dodd's troublesome cross on 53 minutes fooled Ehiogu as he couldn't clear. Danger was behind him when the half-time substitute Luke Rodgers could tap in from close range.

Quinn broke into the box after nice play from Hendrie and Webber but he went down too easily and the referee was having none of it and let play continue.

Cotterill proved to be vital once again down the right-hand side. His cross was deep but did meet Henderson who could head back across goal which was headed away by McCombe and fell sweetly for Stephen Quinn who could volley into the top left corner past Anyon.

Vale kept pressing for an equaliser but couldn't and got caught out by Cotterill who ran lengthy strides down the pitch. He tried a powerful lob over the keeper but Anyon tipped the ball well onto the crossbar.

Naughton made his first competitive appearance when he replaced Lee Hendrie. David Cotterill then switched flanks as he was to play the remainder on the left-hand side to see what he can pull out of the crops.

Experienced keeper Ian Bennett didn't hesitate when Rodgers powerful shot was tipped over the crossbar by the 36 year old. Supporters started to depart the ground when David Cotterill was tripped over in the area and referee Kevin Friend had no doubts that a penalty had to be awarded.

With regular penalty taker James Beattie out due to injury, it was Danny Webber who took the role in attempting to score from 12 yards. He certainly did that when he calmly slotted past the goalkeeper into the bottom left-hand corner on 90 minutes.

The Vale party still continued in Bramall Lane's lower tier as the 300 or so of them enjoyed their night out to South Yorkshire. There was no way of coming back into the game with a minute remaining of the 3 that were indicated, Vale were searching for a consolation goal.

The referee blew his whistle with the Blades progressing through to round two.