Town's Cup woes continue as Thomas stunner sees Blades through
Town’s disappointing run in the FA Cup continued as Nathan Thomas’ brilliant goal took the Blades into the fourth round.
The midfielder smashed a 25 yarder into the roof of the net midway through the first-half in a game of few chances.
Callum Connolly went closest for Blues with a header over the bar but Town couldn’t find a way to goal, failing to progress past the third round for the eighth successive season.
Luke Hyam was handed his first start of the season after recovering from a knee injury in a number of changes for Blues from the team that went down at Fulham in midweek, while Aaron Drinan was on the bench after his move from Waterford was completed following the opening of the transfer window.
Town started on the front foot, with Connolly threatening an opener, then Blues having a handball claim after Luke Chambers had headed goalwards from a corner.
Dominic Iorfa’s surging run down the right ended with a cross from the Wolves loanee that was cleared at full stretch by Chris Basham, while at the other end Thomas fired wide in Sheffield’s first foray into the Town box.
Jonas Knudsen did well to stop former Blue, Caolan Lavery, getting in down the Blades’ right, Freddie Sears zipping in a terrific cross that was cleared as David McGoldrick looked to convert.
Hyam volleyed over from the edge of the box but from even further out, Thomas broke the deadlock on 25 minutes with a superb left foot strike into the top corner.
Bart Bialkowski saved from Lavery as Sheffield looked for a second, Basham far closer with an effort that whistled past the far post.
Iorfa, who was providing an outlet down the right, saw another cross cleared by George Baldock, then Myles Kenlock almost got in on the other flank as Town searched unsuccessfully for an equaliser before the break.
Goalscorer Thomas was replaced at the break by Regan Slater, Blades having an early chance to add a second with Billy Sharp getting clear and with Bialkowski out of his goal, Daniel Lafferty fired over from the cross.
Sharp and then Lavery both had opportunities to find the net as the Blades started the second-half the better, Lavery trying to weave his way to goal but losing control of the ball at the vital last stage.
Chambers cleared from Lavery after clever play from Baldock, Hyam getting through an hour before making way for Martyn Waghorn.
The substitute was immediately in the action, linking up with McGoldrick to release Bersant Celina, his cross held by Jamal Blackman with Sears ready to pounce.
Connolly headed over but it needed an excellent save from Bialkowski to prevent Samir Carruthers making it two for the visitors after Sharp’s terrific pass.
The Town ‘keeper saved again from Baldock, with Sheffield making a second change with Lavery replaced by Clayton Donaldson for the closing stages.
Slater fired over for Blades, Bialkowski appeared in the Sheffield box in the last minute for a free-kick but to no avail as Town’s FA Cup stay for another year ended at the first hurdle again.
Town: Bialkowski, Iorfa, Chambers, Knudsen, Kenlock, Connolly, Hyam (Waghorn 60), Bru, Celina, Sears, McGoldrick. Subs not used: Crowe, Garner, Drinan, Webber, McLoughlin, Skuse. Booked: Chambers.
Sheff Utd: Blackman, Baldock, Basham, Thomas (Slater 46), Sharp (Fleck 87), Wright, Carter-Vickers, Stearman, Lavery (Donaldson 72), Lafferty, Carruthers. Subs not used: Moore, Stevens, O’Connell, Norrington-Davies. Booked: Basham, Wright, Carter-Vickers.