Sheffield United bounced back from recent poor home performances and results, and followed up a tremendous win at Notts County by beating Chesterfield 4-1 to move back into second place.
United had to make one change from the game at Notts County. Maguire was out with a virus so Williams replaced him, with Hill switching inside to centre-back. New loan signing O’Halloran joined Beattie and Hoskins on an attack-minded bench.
The game began with Evans hitting a half volley over but a series of misplaced passes early on meant United struggled to build any momentum. Chesterfield, who started with two up front, competed well and did not seem to want to settle for a draw, such is their perilous position in the table.
The Spireites had a few balls across the box before at the other end Williamson’s excellent free-kick just eluded Cresswell. United had their first real chance when a ball forward from Williamson put Lowton clear inside the right channel but his shot was beaten down by Lee with Quinn slicing horribly over with his less favoured right foot from the follow up.
United had been unconvincing but a sudden moment of quality put them in the lead. Quinn and Williams were involved down the left and, as the ball came in, Evans chested it into the path of Williamson, who smashed an emphatic finish into the top corner of Lee’s goal.
However, United’s continued sloppy play was punished just two minutes before the break. A hopeful punt was nodded down by Bowery and Moussa got on the loose ball and hit a long-range, curling effort beyond Simonsen’s right hand to stun the home crowd and send the travelling Spireites wild at the Bramall Lane end.
Just before half-time, United had another chance when Evans was brought down but his low and fierce free-kick was excellently saved and held by Lee low down to his left.
The second half was only four minutes old when United took the lead again. A ball from McDonald was played into the path of Evans, but he was clipped and taken to the deck by Mendy just inside the box. A soft award, it was something of a surprise when the referee pointed to the spot but Evans grabbed the ball despite his miss recently against Preston and confidently despatched the kick, hitting it low and firm to the right of the goal.
Cresswell took a knock to his head and had to go off for treatment but eventually came back on. United looked much sharper and were moving the ball more efficiently, and a good spell of possession nearly led to more chances.
It was not long before the third goal came. Willamson was taken down cynically after he outpaced and out-thought Smith. From the free-kick, Williamson played an intelligent low pass into the path of Evans, who came off his man and was able to sidefoot home. It was a clever goal, simple in its execution, but pleasing to see something different from a set play.
Cresswell was then replaced by Hoskins before Evans robbed Trotman and hit a ferocious shot that cannoned off Lee’s right hand-post with the keeper well beaten. It was another great effort that was earned by hard work.
It was not long though before Evans was on target again, to complete his hat-trick inside 14-minutes. McDonald’s through-ball allowed the Welshman to get the better of Trotman again and drive at goal before smashing an unstoppable drive high past Lee’s near post. The Blades striker hopped onto the advertising boards and celebrated, arms aloft, in front of the jubilant Kop. It had been a tremendous spell by a striker bang in form.
Chesterfield made a triple substitution in an effort to stem the tide but United were now full of confidence, and knocking the ball about well; the visitors looked well beaten after a spirited first half.
Beattie came on for Evans, who got a richly deserved standing ovation, with just over 10 minutes to go before soon after Quinn was replaced by new loan signing O’Halloran.
Chesterfield had a rare chance right at the end but Moussa’s shot went into the side netting. O’Halloran then stretched his legs but his shot was deflected wide before a final chance came for United when Williamson showed some impish footwork to knock the ball over his man and his cross cum shot ballooned up but Beattie sliced the chance and United could not convert the scramble.