Billy Sharp’s late winner sent Sheffield United back to second in League One on a bizarre evening at Coventry City’s Ricoh Arena last night.
A section of Coventry’s fans invaded the pitch late on to protest against owners Sisu in front of the Sky cameras, with players and officials forced to leave the pitch.
After a lengthy delay, they all returned and Sharp, who had earlier put United ahead in the first half, scored a dramatic winner to send United’s fans wild.
The home supporters had loudly voiced their opposition of Sisu throughout and the game was stopped late on as dozens of home fans invaded the pitch with a ‘Sisu Out’ flag featuring prominently.
Earlier, balloons on the pitch stopped play and one lone home supporter invaded the pitch and sat on the centre-spot, to cheers of support.
Sharp, the United captain, dampened the mood further when he put United ahead in the first half, but United were pegged back when Daniel Agyei levelled, albeit via a fortunate deflection from the boot of Paul Coutts.
Coventry had entered the game without a point since November 1, having been on a run of five straight League One defeats since.
They appeared set to wilt under difficult circumstances early on.
United, to their great credit, did not and it was their talisman Sharp who put them ahead after 24 minutes.
It was a typically instinctive finish from United’s captain, rifling home after Daniel Lafferty’s cross had been half-cleared, although home goalkeeper Reice Charles-Cook will maybe think he could have done better.
The goal ended a barren run of five games for Sharp and his second was, remarkably, his 12th goal in United’s last nine away games in League One.
John Fleck, returning to the Ricoh for the first time since joining United from Coventry in the summer, went close with a cheeky chip before Andre Wright and Gael Bigirimana both blazed over the crossbar when well placed for the hosts.
Coventry began the second half much better, and levelled on 51 minutes when Agyei’s strike flicked off the boot of Coutts and dipped under Simon Moore’s crossbar.
United went desperately close to a winner when substitute Caolan Lavery twice hit a post, with curling efforts from almost identical positions, and Mark Duffy drew a decent save from Charles-Cook as Coventry’s fans continued to demonstrate with a mass pitch invasion.
But Sharp had the last word, rifling home on the rebound after Charles-Cook had saved his first effort.
Coventry City: Charles-Cook, Willis, Turnbull, Bigirimana, Rose, Agyei (Thomas, 69), McCann, Page, Sordell, Wright (Lameiras, 74), Kelly-Evans. Unused substitutes: Addai, Jones, Reid, Gadzhev, Tudgay.
Sheffield United: Moore, Freeman, Basham, Ebanks-Landell, O’Connell, Lafferty, Coutts (Clarke, 75), Fleck, Duffy (Whiteman, 90), Sharp, Done (Lavery, 63). Unused substitutes: Ramsdale, Hussey, Wright, Brown.
Referee: David Webb (Lancashire).
Latest League One table: Page 24