LEE EVANS scored two fine goals as Sheffield United’s faltering bid for the play-offs was boosted by a 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough.
It was the perfect response from Chris Wilder’s men following the disappointment of Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at lowly South Yorkshire rivals Barnsley.
Boro, who had skipper Grant Leadbitter sent-off midway through the first half, regrouped at half-time with manager Tony Pulis making three changes to his line-up.
The changes had an impact as Daniel Ayala reduced the arrears early in the second half, but the visitors were unable to force an equaliser.
Evans scored inside two minutes with a superbly-struck volley from the edge of the area which gave goalkeeper Darren Randolph no chance.
United’s John Lundstram then fired over following a pull-back from Enda Stevens.
Patrick Bamford had Boro’s first effort on goal, firing in a low shot which was comfortably dealt with by Simon Moore.
A good ball from Evans put Leon Clarke through on goal, with Randolph using his legs to block the striker’s effort.
The visitors were down to 10 men in the 25th minute when Leadbitter was sent-off after picking up two bookings in the space of six minutes.
After having a shot deflected wide, Evans scored his second goal of the night to put the hosts further ahead. David Brooks found Evans and he hammered his first-time shot past Randolph.
Boro used all three substitutes at the start of the second half with Britt Assombalonga, Fabio Da Silva and Adam Clayton coming on for Adama Traore, Mo Besic and Bamford.
It took the visitors just three minutes after the restart to pull a goal back. Stewart Downing’s free-kick was flicked on by Ben Gibson and Ayala stabbed the ball into the net from close range.
Buoyed by the goal, Boro posed a greater attacking threat in the second half.
Jonny Howson put a long-range effort over and Assombalonga fired wide from distance.
Howson went close in the latter stages with a curling effort, much to the relief of the home fans who had seen their team concede a goal at the death in their previous home fixture against Cardiff.
Lundstram fired well over from inside the area as the hosts looked to kill the game off.
The result dented Boro’s efforts to cement their place in the top six.
Sheffield United: Moore, Basham, Wright (Duffy 73), O’Connell, Baldock, Lundstram (Leonard 90), Lee Evans, Fleck, Stevens, Brooks (Donaldson 86), Clarke. Unused substitutes: Sharp, Lafferty, Holmes, Eastwood.
Middlesbrough: Randolph, Shotton, Ayala, Gibson, Friend, Howson, Leadbitter, Besic (Clayton 46), Traore (Da Silva 46), Bamford (Assombalonga 46), Downing. Unused substitutes: Konstantopoulos, Cranie, Fry, Harrison.
Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire).