Doncaster Rovers 0 Sheffield United 2: Billy Sharp on target as Rovers beaten by Blades

Ben Whiteman goes up against Leon Clarke.
Ben Whiteman goes up against Leon Clarke.

Doncaster Rovers showed some encouraging signs but went down to Sheffield United in their final pre-season friendly.

Grant McCann's side produced a good first half display and new loan signing Mallik Wilks really caught the eye.

But a combination of some poor finishing and excellent goalkeeping from Simon Moore prevented them from finding the net - meaning Rovers failed to score in their three friendlies against EFL opposition.

The visitors gained more of a foothold after the break and, after several near misses, went ahead through David McGoldrick.

Former Rovers striker Billy Sharp sealed victory for the Blades by coolly finishing off a counter attack.

New signing Ali Crawford, who missed the majority of last season with a serious knee injury, worryingly went off injured.

McCann, perhaps not wanting to give too much away ahead of next weekend's League One opener at Southend United, opted to field two different teams for each half. Only Andy Butler played the full 90 minutes, while trialists Paul Taylor and Romario Vieira featured in the second half.

Rovers more than matched their South Yorkshire rivals during the first period and registered more attempts on goal - but could just not find a finish.

James Coppinger tested Moore after 12 seconds and they came close to going ahead when, following an incisive move, Crawford fired just wide.

Matty Blair, in particular, showed plenty of industry in midfield, while Marko Marosi did his chances of starting at Roots Hall no harm at all by making two impressive saves to keep out Daniel Lafferty and Mark Duffy from distance.

Wilks was denied by Moore on three occasions as Rovers started to turn the screw after the half hour mark.

Firstly his weak effort following a quick counter was easily diverted wide. Moore then had to be at full stretch to keep out Wilks' close range header and he then palmed away another effort following the on-loan Leeds United forward's powerful break down the left.

For good measure, Moore also kept out two Butler headers as Rovers threatened from set pieces.

The Blades started the second period, against Rovers' re-jigged side, on top and Leon Clarke fired just wide before Ian Lawlor kept out Ricky Holmes' effort and blocked another shot from Clarke.

Tom Anderson headed Paul Taylor's cross inches wide but it was the away team who now looked the more likely and went ahead after 73 minutes when McGoldrick, who moments earlier had blazed wide with the goal at his mercy, converted Rhys Norrington-Davies' cross from the left.

The result was put beyond doubt when Rovers' defence was sliced open and Sharp beat Lawlor with an accomplished finish.

Only a good save from Lawlor prevented Caolan Lavery, who was expertly sent clear by Sharp, making it three.

Rovers: Marosi (Lawlor 46), Mason (Lund 46), Wright (Anderson 46), Butler, Amos (Andrew 46), Whiteman (McCullough 46), Blair (Vieira 46), Crawford (Rowe 25), Wilks (Taylor 46), Coppinger (Beestin 46), Marquis (May 46).

Sheffield United: Moore, Freeman, Egan, Stearman (Basham 61), O’Connell, Lafferty (Norrington-Davies 61), Lundstram, Duffy (Lavery 84), Holmes (Evans 61), Clarke (McGoldrick 61), Sharp. Subs not used: Henderson, Fleck, Doherty.

Referee: Darren England

Attendance: 4,029 (1,928)