Match report as Billy Sharp and Chris Basham book fifth-round tie with Bristol City; Panutche Camara gave Blades late scare at Bramall Lane
Sheffield United secured just their third win of the season as evergreen striker Billy Sharp helped Chris Wilder’s men avoid an FA Cup upset with a 2-1 win against Plymouth.
The Blades have endured a wretched campaign but some cup tonic for the Premier League’s bottom side continued as they earned a third win from four games in all competitions.
Sharp was the key man at Bramall Lane, providing a fine cross for Chris Basham’s opener (39) before scoring a neat goal early in the second half (47) that proved decisive against the League One side.
Panutche Camara’s goal made it a nervy final 15 minutes, but the Blades, who had controlled the game before then and spurned several other opportunities, held on to set up a home fifth-round tie against Bristol City.
The hosts flew out of the blocks with Rhian Brewster, looking determined to open his account, sending a downward header wide before stinging the palms of ‘keeper Michael Cooper from 20 yards.
The ex-Liverpool striker was unable to make clean contact with a low John Fleck cross as the home side dominated proceedings, only for Plymouth to waste a great chance to score against the run of play.
After patient build-up down the left, Luke Jephcott cut the ball back and Camara blazed over from close range, a huge let-off that jolted the Blades back into life.
John Lundstram hammered a low effort narrowly wide before the video assistant referee checked Kelland Watts’ block from an Ethan Ampadu strike for handball.
Plymouth avoided conceding a spot-kick but their resistance was broken in the 39th minute as Sharp sent a lovely cross for Basham to power home at the far post.
Conor Grant fired into the side-netting as Argyle looked to level before half-time, only for hope of an upset to be dented moments after the restart.
Oliver Norwood’s sent an outstanding pass through to Sharp, who kept his cool under pressure and rounded Cooper before directing into an empty net.
United were in control and Brewster saw a fierce half-volley saved before Sharp struck over after showing good strength and composure.
But Ryan Lowe’s men clawed one back in the 75th minute.
Camara caught Lundstram in possession and burst into the box, where he turned home substitute Byron Moore’s cross to give the visitors hope.
Enda Stevens and Ampadu had efforts to put the tie to bed, with Moore lashing over for Plymouth and United substitute Oliver Burke denied by a superb Cooper save in stoppage time.
What the managers said
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder: “Job done. You look at an attitude and professionalism, apart from five minutes when we gifted them the opportunity to put a bit of pressure on us, which they took.
“It was generally a decent performance. We should have stretched the lead from one to two a little bit earlier than we did. But job done, through to next round and we crack on into obviously what is going to be a tough week for the players and the football club [games against Manchester United and Manchester City].
“You have to put it into perspective and look at our next two performances, but there’s no downside to winning games of football and playing well. I thought for long periods we played well, dominated the ball, moved the ball around the pitch, created chances, just didn’t really put them to bed in the last bit which possibly we should have done.”
Plymouth boss Ryan Lowe: “They are a good team. They press very well, they keep the ball in the right areas. Their movement is something we will look at to advance for us in our league the way they do it.
“Great experience and to push them all the way… I’m disappointed we didn’t score in the first half, but in terms of Sheffield United they’re a fantastic outfit, fantastic manager and coaching staff. I think we’ve done ourselves proud and Plymouth Argyle today.”
FA Cup 2020/21 – key dates and draw
The FA Cup schedule has been confirmed, with the final set to take place at Wembley on Saturday May 15.
There will be no replays this season to help ease fixture congestion.
- Fourth round: January 22-25
- Fifth round: Wednesday February 10
- Quarter-finals: Saturday March 20
- Semi-finals: Saturday April 17
- Final: Saturday May 15