Manager Chris Wilder happily reflected upon his side’s “best win of the season” as Sheffield United went to the top of the Sky Bet Championship with a 1-0 victory at home to Hull.
David McGoldrick’s 70th-minute penalty, allied to favourable results elsewhere, gave his side a key triumph which also consigned their opponents to the bottom of the league.
Wilder said: “We’d rather be here than another position. It’s an accumulation of points, and we are delighted to have 25 points from 12 games.
“I believe they’ve all been fully earned. We’ve had none given to us.
“We’ve won four on the bounce now so we’ve had to do a lot of things right.
“I think, pound for pound, that’s the best win of the season. We’re enjoying our football.”
Sheffield United had to work hard against a Hull side who, for long periods, belied their lowly position.
Indeed, the decisive moment of the match, when referee Peter Bankes awarded a spot-kick after he felt Tommy Elphick had grappled Jack O’Connell to the floor, came against the run of play.
The home team looked short of inspiration, and Hull midfielder Markus Henriksen should have scored moments before the concession of penalty when Dean Henderson saved the Norwegian’s close-range header.
Wilder said: “It was a grind. It was difficult, but we’ve had a tough schedule.
“From 35 to 45 minutes I was thinking in my head, ‘Should I have freshened it up?’.
“We had to get into the boys a little at half-time to raise the energy levels, raise the tempo.
“Deano made that save, and it was obviously the key point for us, but the attitude of the group was brilliant.
“I thought the way we saw the game out was outstanding.
“I just thought it said everything about us.”
Hull have now lost eight of their 12 league games this season, with their plight compounded by a hostile relationship between supporters and the club’s owners, the Allam family.
Manager Nigel Adkins said: “It is what it is. The league table doesn’t lie.
“It’s not where you want to be in the division - you can’t hide away from that.
“We are creating chances and we do look solid defensively. Sometimes it’s fine margins.
“But we’ve got a unity, with people working really hard for the cause. The players are grafting.
“Sometimes when you are at the bottom you don’t get the rub of the green, and maybe today was a case of that.
“We’ve just got to keep grafting through it.”
Adkins suggested Hull should also have been awarded a penalty for what he saw as a similar offence on Elphick to that of Sheffield United’s “dubious” spot-kick.
He added: “If that’s a penalty, it should be a penalty for us as well.”