Goals from Rhian Brewster and Billy Sharp gave Paul Heckingbottom a winning start as Sheffield United manager, beating Bristol City 2-0 on a snowy afternoon at Bramall Lane.
Heckingbottom, who served as interim manager last season after Chris Wilder left and was hired to replace Slavisa Jokanovic on Thursday, was introduced to the crowd ahead of kick-off. Other members of the new management team – including Stuart McCall and Jack Lester – also took their places on the bench.
The hosts got off to a brisk start, Morgan Gibbs-White sending a low cross that just slipped out from Brewster before Jayden Bogle came close, meeting a cross from Enda Stevens but putting his header to the far post wide. City’s first chance went to Chris Martin who met Alex Scott’s corner with a firm header and forced Wes Foderingham to make a good save to his right.
Brewster struck five minutes before the break, executing a neat turn and shooting low in front of Daniel Bentley after receiving the ball from Stevens.
There was a break of around 10 minutes at the start of the second half as Nathan Baker received extensive treatment after a heads-up clash. The defender was eventually taken on a stretcher and replaced by Robert Atkinson. A second substitution for the visitors came soon after, with Nahki Wells replacing Ayman Benarous. The home side also made an offensive change by sending Sharp in place of Brewster.
Tyreeq Bakinson scored a rare effort on goal for City with a long-range shot that was saved by Foderingham, who recovered the ball on the second attempt.
Gibbs-White saw a Bentley repelled shot at his near post after playing a one-two with Oliver Norwood, whose distance effort was later deflected by Bentley.
United continued to press: John Egan shot a broad head and Sharp’s down shot, which bounced off the turf, forced Bentley to knock the ball over.
Egan also led wide before Sharp sealed the victory, applying the finish from close range after David McGoldrick delivered a low cross from the right. In the 13 minutes of extra time, there was effort at either end with Gibbs-White and Wells both sending wide shots.
The victory puts Sheffield United to 13th place in the Championship, six points from the play-offs, while Bristol City’s sixth loss in nine league appearances leaves them 18th.