Aston Villa 1 Sheffield United 2: Blades stun Premier League hosts in FA Cup

Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough
Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough
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RYAN FLYNN shot Sheffield United into the FA Cup fourth round with a stunning winner against Premier League Aston Villa.

The winger struck with just nine minutes remaining to settle an absorbing contest in the favour of the League One side.

It was no more than Nigel Clough’s side deserved after taking the lead in the first half through Jamie Murphy and then taking the game to their hosts.

For Paul Lambert, it was the second humiliating Cup exit to Yorkshire opposition inside a year after Bradford City’s stunning Capital One Cup semi-final triumph at the start of 2013.

For the Blades, meanwhile, it was further confirmation of the wonderful job Nigel Clough is doing since replacing David Weir in October.

Back then, United looked on course for a return to the basement division. Now, with their league position looking much more promising, the south Yorkshire club is looking forward to tomorrow’s fourth round draw.

The visitors took the lead on 19 minutes, the fact it came via the game’s first chance showing how well the League One visitors had performed in the early stages.

Jose Baxter played a part by spreading play to Jamie Murphy on the wing. but, in truth, it was very much Murphy’s goal as the former Motherwell man cut inside Matt Lowton before firing a shot that took a deflection off Ashley Westwood on its way into the net.

The near 6,000 strong travelling army of fans were understandably overjoyed. And their afternoon almost got a lot better on the half-hour when more incisive play by United saw Murphy get into a promising position before dragging a shot wide.

With the hosts struggling, Clough’s men continued to press and goalkeeper Jed Steer had to react quickly to cut out a dangerous Tony McMahon cross.

Ciaran Clark also had to be alert to deny Chris Porter a tap in from a Murphy cross before the first half ended with Christian Benteke twice heading wide when well placed after being picked out by Marcus Albrighton.

Benteke was also culpable in squandering a fine chance after half-time, his 70th minute shot being weak and easily saved by George Long.

Westwood should also have done better moments later when through on goal but the former Crewe man shot horrendously wide in front of the Holte End.

At the other end, Ryan Flynn brought three saves from Jed Steer in the home goal but it was the Premier League outfit who were destined to break the second half deadlock.

An inability to clear a 75th minute corner cost United, as substitute Nicklas Helenius finished with aplomb from 12 yards.

The visitors’ response was impressive as, first, Porter shot over after being played through and then a Flynn cross flew across the face of goal with no-one in a yellow shirt on hand to tap in.

And it was the Blades wideman who restored the League One side’s advantage nine minutes from time with a wonderful shot that gave Steer no chance.

Blades boss Nigel Clough said: “For us and our 6,000 fans who came today, I think you saw how much it meant. It’s still a special, special competition and we’d just like a home draw next because we’ve had three away games on the spin so it would be nice to get one at Bramall Lane.”

Clough added: “We had a great chance just after their equaliser. The equaliser gave us that kick up the a**e and we went and attacked them again and got a deserved second goal.

“We could have come here to try to sit back but we don’t want to play like that.”