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 was caretaker manager for a spell last season after Chris Wilder’s departure and was hired to replace Slavisa Jokanovic on Thursday, was introduced to the crowd before 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 lively start, Morgan Gibbs-White sending over a low cross that just evaded Brewster before Jayden Bogle went close, meeting a cross from Enda Stevens but putting his far-post header wide. City’s first chance fell to Chris Martin who met Alex Scott’s corner with a firm header and forcing Wes Foderingham into a good save to his right.
Brewster struck five minutes before the break, executing a neat turn and firing low past Daniel Bentley after receiving the ball from Stevens.
There was a break in play lasting around 10 minutes in the early stages of the second half when Nathan Baker received lengthy treatment after a clash of heads. The defender was eventually carried off on a stretcher and replaced by Robert Atkinson. A second substitution for the visitors came soon afterwards, with Nahki Wells replacing Ayman Benarous. The home side also made an attacking change by sending on Sharp in place of Brewster.
Tyreeq Bakinson registered a rare effort on goal for City with a long-range shot that was saved by Foderingham, who gathered the ball at the second attempt.
Gibbs-White had a shot beaten away by Bentley at his near post after playing a one-two with Oliver Norwood, whose effort from distance was then turned wide by Bentley.
United continued to apply pressure: John Egan headed wide and Sharp’s downward shot, which bounced up off the turf, forced Bentley to tip the ball over.
Egan also headed 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 time added on, there were efforts at either end with Gibbs-White and Wells both sending shots wide.
The win takes Sheffield United up to 13th in the Championship, six points away from the play-off spots, while Bristol City’s sixth defeat in nine league games leaves them 18th.