New Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom was pleased with his side’s performance after goals from Rhian Brewster and Billy Sharp gave them a 2-0 victory over Bristol City on a snowy afternoon.
United’s Jayden Bogle went close, putting a far-post header wide from an Enda Stevens cross.
City’s Chris Martin met Alex Scott’s corner with a firm header, forcing keeper Wes Foderingham to make a good save to his right in the visitors’ best attack.
Brewster struck five minutes before the break, producing 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 following a clash of heads before being taken off on a stretcher.
After several chances went begging, Sharp (89) sealed the victory, applying the finish from close range after David McGoldrick delivered a low cross from the right.
Heckingbottom said: “I was pleased with lots of things in the game. I thought the approach was good and the players responding to the messages was very good.
“I think it was important we got that goal before half-time. We were easily good value for one-nil – it should have been more.
“The second half was very similar – 21 shots and it’s still one-nil and you’re wondering if they’re going to get a chance at the other end.
“When that second goal went in, it was an important moment in the game.
“We knew Bristol’s threats to be on the counter with a long ball. In open play, we were defensively strong.
“Bristol came to slow the game down and the players’ intensity, I thought, was good. We managed to try and keep the game played at our tempo when the ball was on the pitch. That was an important thing for us.”
Bristol City boss Nigel Pearson admitted his side gave the ball away too easily.
He said: “We needed to be at our best and I thought we were a bit careless in possession and we weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be against them.
“There were too many unforced errors and bad decision making. Today was a day when there are a few lessons to be learned.
“We made some bad decisions when we had some good possession. We needed too many touches which is a lesson for some of our younger players.
“At one-nil, the second goal comes from a bad decision from one of our senior players.
“It looked as though they were slightly relieved to get the second goal which, in the context of the game, was a bit surprising in itself.”
On Baker’s injury, Pearson said: “They’ve taken him to hospital to check him over, so we’ll see. I don’t know any more details.”