Billy Sharp hat-trick sees off Latics as they lose 4-2 to the Sky Bet Championship leaders at Bramall Lane.
- Match Report: Sheffield United 4 - 2 Latics
- Billy Sharp scores hat-trick for the Sky Bet Championship leaders.
- Kal Naismith and Joe Garner got their first Latics goals in reply for Paul Cook’s side
SHEFFIELD UNITED 4
Dunkley (OG) 23
Sharp 44, 53, 62
WIGAN ATHLETIC 2
Attendance: 24,429 (970 away)
A Billy Sharp hat-trick condemned Latics to defeat against Sky Bet Championship leaders Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Saturday afternoon.
The Blades went ahead when Chey Dunkley diverted into his own goal before Kal Naismith levelled for Latics for his first goal for the club.
Sharp’s hat-trick came between the 44th and 62nd minutes and gave Chris Wilder’s side control before substitute Joe Garner notched his first strike from the bench later in the second-half.
Paul Cook made four changes from Tuesday night’s defeat to Millwall as Nick Powell, Gary Roberts, Nathan Byrne and Antonee Robinson all returned to the starting XI. Cedric Kipre, James Vaughan and Naismith went to the bench whilst Lee Evans was ineligible to play against his parent club.
Latics created early opportunities on a cold afternoon in the Steel City as Powell had an early header saved before Reece James fired over from 25 yards.
The best chance for the opener fell to Dunkley, who headed over from a Roberts corner, which the latter had won after his free-kick was well-tipped over by Dean Henderson. A minute later, though, and Latics were behind as Dunkley fired into his own goal.
Latics reacted well and Powell fired off target from 25 yards before Naismith, who replaced Roberts only minutes earlier, grabbed his first goal for the club from a deep Nathan Byrne cross.
Dan Burn then headed over from a Naismith corner before Cook’s side conceded a killer second goal on the stroke of half-time as Sharp grabbed his first when Latics couldn’t clear a set-piece.
It could have been worse in first-half stoppage time but Robinson did well to get back and stop McGoldrick when he burst through on goal.
Early in the second-half, Walton did well to deny former Latic Leon Clarke at his near post before Powell headed over from close range – a glorious chance for 2-0.
Ten minutes later, though, the game was out of sight as Sharp first converted a Clarke cross at the back post before he lobbed Walton followed an Enda Stevens chip just after the hour mark.
Six minutes later, Garner gave Cook’s side some hope as he hooked home from a Windass cross, starting a remaining 20 minutes where Latics perhaps could have got themselves back in the contest.
Reece James saw a free-kick tipped over by Dean Henderson ten minutes from time before an inviting Naismith cross couldn’t find a Latics striker to tap home.
Garner twice forced Henderson into saves from headers in stoppage time but Latics couldn’t get a third and instead turn their attentions back to the DW Stadium, where they host Leeds United on Sunday week.
Sheffield United: Henderson, Stevens, Fleck, O'Connell, Basham, Clarke, Sharp (Capt) (Washington 87), Norwood, McGoldrick (Coutts 61), Freeman, Stearman
Subs: Moore, Baldock, Woodburn, Johnson, Cranie.
Latics: Walton, Byrne, Robinson, Morsy (Capt), Windass, James, Roberts (Naismith 35), Dunkley, Powell (McManaman 66), Connolly (Garner 58), Burn
Subs: Jones, Vaughan, Lopes, Kipre.