FOR Sheffield United, there is definitely life after the Steel City derby.
Not for Sheffield Wednesday manager Gary Megson, however, whose sacking was announced as the Blades beat Scunthorpe United.
It was a truly surreal evening for Steel City football coming just three days after the drama of Hillsborough.
The Blades bounced back from the agony of their defeat by the Owls with a narrow victory against a side reduced to 10 men.
But all the talk in the stands was not about the result – which restored the Blades’ five-point lead over third-placed Wednesday – but Megson’s departure.
Blades manager Danny Wilson had opted to shake up his side in the wake of the derby defeat.
Striker James Beattie made his first start since re-joining the club in December and, with both Nick Montgomery and Kevin McDonald injured, Johnny Ertl was thrust into the centre of midfield alongside captain Michael Doyle.
By the interval, however, Wilson had gone back to ‘Plan A’ – substituting Beattie and Ertl, who failed to shine.
Goals from Lee Williamson and Stephen Quinn ultimately secured victory after Scunthorpe took a half-time lead though Mark Duffy. However, the dismissal of Scunthorpe captain Sam Togwell gave the Blades a way back into the contest.
Striker Ched Evans played for the Blades after missing out on the final Welsh quad for Gary Speed’s memorial game last night against Costa Rica in Cardiff.
It was Speed who had been in charge of the Blades when Scunthorpe romped to a 4-0 victory at Bramall Lane last season.
The Iron’s 29-year hoodoo over the Blades included eight fixtures – mainly in the second tier – and both were relegated from the Championship last season.
There is now a possibility of the pair leaving League One via different exit doors this season.
Wilson had been adamant that his players had displayed no signs of a derby hangover in training.
Yet as the first half progressed, it was abundantly clear that the Blades were not in top form.
Scunthorpe enjoyed the lion’s share of the ball and put a number of crosses into the penalty box without testing the goalkeeper.
The Blades created even less although Ertl missed a good early chance when poking wide following a neat flick by Beattie.
Scunthorpe took the lead in the 32nd minute courtesy of a solo goal by winger Duffy.
Exploiting space in the Blades’ midfield, Duffy darted between players before hitting a left-foot shot from the edge of the area that beat Simonsen low to his left.
Scunthorpe were in the driving seat until Togwell was sent off just minutes later for a studs-up challenge on Michael Doyle. The pair had been winding each other up for some time with Doyle lucky to get away with a swing of the arm that caught Togwell in the guts.
Togwell looked to get even at the next opportunity but the challenge took place right under the nose of the referee.
Both Quinn and Richard Cresswell, who had been dropped to the bench, joined the action at the halfway stage.
The Blades had a numerical advantage and it took improved endeavour from their players to make it count. Home fans also demanded the improvement having jeered their team off at the interval.
With only 10 men, Scunthorpe soon began to creak at the back. By the 54th minute the Blades were celebrating an equaliser.
Quinn fed Evans and his cross picked out Williamson who volleyed home from eight yards out.
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe saved from Evans as home pressure intensified.
Time wasting was employed by the visitors and referee Tierney brandished a number of yellow cards to try to speed things up.
Quinn hit the winner for the Blades nine minutes from time – his 25-yard drive taking a massive deflection on its way home.
Sheffield United: Simonsen; Lowton, Maguire, Collins, Jean-Francois; Williamson, Ertl (Quinn 45), Doyle, Flynn (Hoskins 75); Evans, Beattie (Cresswell 45). Unused substitutes: Howard, Porter,.
Scunthorpe United: Slocombe; Ribeiro (Grant 89), Mirfin, Reid, Reckord; Togwell; Duffy (Byrne 79), O’Connor, Barcham (Thompson 70); Walker; Parkin. Unused substitutes: Robertson, Mozika,.
Referee: P Tierney (Lancashire).