SHEFFIELD UNITED gave their survival hopes a major boost with a fully deserved derby win against Leeds United.
An own goal by Eric Lichaj and Bjorn Helge Riise’s first goal for the Blades were enough to seal a win that, on chances created, should really have been more emphatic against a Leeds side who ended the game with ten men following the late dismissal of Billy Paynter.
Sheffield United manager Micky Adams highlighted his side’s home games as the key to their survival hopes.
The Blades, who went 13 matches without a win prior to their home success over Nottingham Forest two weeks ago, recorded back-to-back home victories for the first time this season by beating Leeds.
“We were terrific today and I thought there was a commitment there that was all to see,” he said. “We stifled Leeds, their three-man midfield in particular.
“We were better than them all around the pitch. We limited them to a few chances and, maybe in my tenure here, teams have taken the chances they have had against us.
“We’ve now beaten Nottingham Forest and Leeds here, and we’ve shown what we are capable of doing.
“I told the players that everyone had written them off before the game. But we’re not finished yet. We’ve got four home games left which are key to it and this performance has given us a chance.”
Leeds manager Simon Grayson added: “I’m hugely disappointed and we got what we deserved which was nothing, To lose at important stage of the season and in a derby game is annoying and frustrating.
“We didn’t get going. We knew they’d make it difficult and ugly and scrap but we didn’t compete or win enough battles. It was hugely frustrating all round.
The all-important breakthrough came on 55 minutes when Stephen Quinn got in behind the Leeds defence and drilled a cross that Nick Montgomery flicked across the six-yard box.
Right-back Lichaj was the unfortunate Leeds player who the ball then ricochet off into the net to put the hosts ahead.
It was a deserved lead and one the Blades could have extended just after the hour when Ched Evans was through on goal only to be denied by a superb last-gasp tackle from Leigh Bromby.
The second goal did arrive on 74 minutes when poor defending by Leeds saw possession presented to Quinn who found Bjorn Helge Riise.
The substitute had only been on the field a couple of minutes but still finished with aplomb to seal a deserved three points.
For Leeds, Barry Bannan went close with a 20-yard shot that flashed just past the post but, otherwise, the West Yorkshire side were a pale shadow of themselves.
Just to compound Leeds’ misery Billy Paynter was sent off in the closing stages for an alleged stamp on Shane Lowry.
Kasper Schmeichel had produced a hat-trick of outstanding saves to ensure the game remained goalless at half-time.
The Leeds goalkeeper denied both Daniel Bogdanivoc, Ched Evans and Stephen Quinn to prevent the Blades snatching the goal their play in the opening 45 minutes had warrented.
Micky Adams’ men started the game quicker than their Leeds counterparts and created a couple of half-chances in the opening quarter of an hour.
First, Quinn found himself in a promising position after just 37 seconds only to fluff his shot under pressure from the visitors defence.
Then, after Max Gradel had needlessly conceded a corner, Quinn picked out Matthew Lowton whose shot was comfortably held by Schmeichel.
The Blades continued to cause problems and were fuming when referee Mike Jones pulled play back for a foul on Quinn by Andyu O’Brien when Daniel Bogdanovic was through on goal.
For all the pressure exerted by the home side, however, it was Leeds who fashioned the best move of the opening quarter on 17 minutes.
A sweeping move involving Barry Bannan and Robert Snodgrass ended with Erick Lichaj picking out Max Gradel who could only head wide despite being five yards out and unmarked.
It was a bad miss, though nothing compared to the opportunity that the home side wasted on 36 minutes.
Nick Montgomery created the opening with a right wing cross that was flicked on by Ched Evans to Bogdanovic.
The Maltese striker was unmarked and just eight yards out but somehow couldn’t finish as Schmeichel raced from his line to block.
He then came to Leeds rescue once again three minutes later when clawing away a fiercely hit shot by Quinn.
Schmeichel then made it a hat-trick of stops to keep out a 20-yard effort from Evans just before the break.
Sheffield United made three changes from the team beaten by Watford as Leeds United came to Bramall Lane.
Two were enforced with the red cards handed out to Lee Williamson and Darius Henderson meaning Micky Adams’ hand was forced in bringing Daniel Bogdanovic and Ched Evans in as the Blades managed opted for a three-man attack.
For Leeds, Barry Bannan was brought in for his first start to add some steel to the midfield while top scorer Luciano Becchio returned in place of Billy Paynter.
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