SHEFFIELD UNITED manager Chris Wilder was happy his side took their chance to progress to tonight’s fifth round draw.
Blades captain Billy Sharp won and converted a penalty in the 80th minute to secure the victory in a tightly contested game which saw little goal action.
Wilder said: “It wasn’t a classic game. We just needed to lift our standards and be a bit more aggressive in the second half and drive the game forward a little more.
“I thought the introduction of Ched (Evans) gave us a little spark, and (Chris) Basham as well.
“We changed the shape at half-time as well just to get a bit more control of the football, which I think it did and we just edged a tight game.
“It was two teams that are very evenly matched, in league position. They made a few changes and we made a few changes, so I think both managers will be delighted that it has been decided on the day.”
Mark Duffy, who signed a new contract on Friday, was the main creator for the Blades. Either side of half-time, the 32-year-old drilled in low crosses for Clayton Donaldson but the striker found the side-netting both times.
Daniel Lafferty was next to benefit from Duffy’s supply, as he saw a volley tipped over the bar by Declan Rudd before the visitors’ captain, Tom Clarke, brought Sharp down inside the area.
Sharp stepped up and tucked away the spot-kick, sending Rudd the wrong way and North End crashing out of the cup.
“Fortunately for us, we’ve managed to nick it and find a way, when not playing great, to win a game of football, which has been a little bit of our Achilles heel,” added Wilder.
They made a few changes and we made a few changes, so I think both managers will be delighted that it has been decided on the day.Sheffield United manager, Chris Wilder.
Preston chief Alex Neil felt the penalty decision could have gone either way. “Obviously I’m disappointed, as you don’t want to lose any game,” he said.
“Having said that, I don’t think there was much in the game at all. I think the stats suggest that chances for and chances against are relatively similar.
“I think the disappointing thing is to go out to a contentious penalty. Having watched it back about six times, it’s still a wee bit inconclusive for me. I’m not 100 per cent sure it was a penalty.”
Sheffield United: Moore, Lundstram, Wright, Stearman, Baldock, Fleck, Duffy, Heneghan (Basham 59), Lafferty, Sharp (Stevens 90), Donaldson (Ched Evans 59). Unused substitutes: O’Connell, Wilson, Eastwood, Carruthers.
Preston North End: Rudd, Clarke, Fisher (Woods 68), Huntington, Earl, Horgan (Barkhuizen 59), Browne, Welsh (Hugill 68), Johnson, Bodin, Moult. Unused substitutes: Gallagher, Spurr, Maxwell, Robinson.
Referee: G Scott (Oxfordshire).