FULL-TIME: Stevenage 4 Sheffield United 0

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SHEFFIELD United’s automatic promotion hopes suffered a blow when they were hammered 4-0 at Stevenage.

Dani Lopez - recalled from a loan spell at League Two Barnet earlier this week due to injuries - was the main difference between the two sides plundering a deserved hat-trick,Lucas Akins adding a fourth.

The deadlock was broken in the 41st minute, a neat turn of Neill Collins in the box allowing the Spaniard to coolly slot the ball past George Long.

Five minutes after the restart, a Gavin Mahon through ball enabled Lopez to run free and finish with style.

Callum McFadzean and Harry Maguire both went close with headers for the visitors shortly after but it was Lopez who was again next to find the net, firing hom from the edge of the penalty area in the 64th minute.

And it got even better for the home side four minutes later when Akins added a fourth.

The result - coupled with Brentford’s 1-0 win at home to Preston North End, nudges the Blades out of the automatic promotion places, two points adrift of their London rivals but with a game in hand.

“I have to say we’ve saved all of our mistakes for one game,” said Blades boss Danny Wilson.

“Defensively we were massively second-best all the game. We’ve allowed too much space in all four goals and very, very poor goals I’ll have to say.

“Throughout the game we were second best in too many areas and that’s cost us the game.”

Stevenage: Arnold, Hills, Grant, Dunne, Haber, Akins, Roberts, Mahon, Comminges, Lopez, N’Gala.

Substitutes: Day, Tansey, Freeman, Iro, Beleck, Hoskins, Shroot.

Blades: Long, Maguire, Hill, Flynn, Doyle, McDonald, Kitson, Collins, Robson, Murphy, McMahon.

Substitutes: Westlake, Higginbotham, Porter, Forte, Poleon, McFadzean, Coyne.