Another win for Town
SIMPLY superb.Sheffield United could not live with a rampant Blues last night as they cut the Blades to ribbons in a scintillating performance.Tommy Miller got them on their way with a 21st-minute penalty and set a new goalscoring record.
Sheffield United could not live with a rampant Blues last night as they cut the Blades to ribbons in a scintillating performance.
Tommy Miller got them on their way with a 21st-minute penalty and set a new goalscoring record.
That goal meant that the Blues had scored in 29 consecutive league games, going back to last March when they lost at Stoke City, breaking a 51-year-old record.
More importantly second-placed Town, who have not lost at home all season, maintain the pressure on leaders Wigan.
Shefki Kuqi bagged a brace while Tommy Miller, Richard Naylor and Ian Westlake joined in the scoring fun.
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Neil Warnock's side tried everything from the outright physical to the occasional passages of good play.
But when they looked at their most dangerous at 2-1 down Naylor broke their will with Town's third and after that it was Mexican waves from the crowd, cheery waves from the manager and wave upon wave of Town attacking football.
Darren Bent was brought down by Blades keeper Paddy Kenny as he beat Phil Jagielka to race on to a through ball and nicked it past him in the 21st minute.
Bristol referee Lee Probert, who has already shown five red cards this season, was mysteriously reluctant to wave a sixth even though Kenny was the last man.
Miller's powerful low shot to his right beat Kenny, who dived the right way and the Town midfielder maintained his record of never having missed a penalty in his career with Town or previous club Hartlepool.
Virtually from the restart Town were two up. Fabian Wilnis crossed from just inside his own half and, under pressure from Bent, Jagielka failed to clear and Kuqi looped a header over the stranded Kenny.
It was the Finn's seventh goal of the season and the leading scorer's second in as many games.
The Blades pulled one back on the stroke of half time through Leigh Bromby. An Andy Liddell free-kick was met by Naylor, but his header fell nicely for the Blades defender, who stroked it low past Lewis Price from 12 yards.
Naylor, who made his Town debut against United eight years ago, directed a second-half header more positively to put Town three up.
The centre-back made a superb run to arrive unmarked and meet a Jim Magilton corner and the bounce beat the keeper.
Kuqi took his second and Town's fourth brilliantly. The Finn finished superbly after a superb ball by Bent, he turned inside Jon Harley to hit a wonderful low curling shot from 18 yards which went inside the far post.
No. 5 may have been close range but it was technically excellent.
Miller did well to pull the ball back from the dead ball line after a neat one-two with Bent and Ian Westlake got between two defenders to turn the ball past Kenny from inside the six-yard box.
The Blues suffered an injury blow when Canadian skipper Jason De Vos was forced off in the 25th minute and Town were forced to reshuffle the defence.
Matt Richards came off the bench to go to left-back and Fabian Wilnis went across to the right. Drissa Diallo took De Vos' place in the centre.
De Vos, who recently suffered a fractured fibula, was struggling as early as the sixth minute after landing heavily in a challenge with Andy Gray as he tried to reach a Magilton corner.
He later went down for treatment and then gallantly tried to carry on but as soon as Town were two up he wisely went off.
Miller had a terrific chance to score in the eighth minute when burst into the middle of goal but appeared to get his studs caught as he tried to place his shot past Kenny but instead it rolled gently to the United keeper.
Bent was causing right-back Bromby problems, getting in a cross for Kuqi who headed wide and then hit a shot straight at Kenny.
The England Under-21 striker also hit a wayward drive from 20 yards but was looking ever dangerous as a supplier.
Kuqi was denied by a brilliant last-ditch tackle by Jagielka as he was about to get on the end of a superb lobbed ball by Magilton.
Bromby and Danny Cadamarteri jangled Town's nerves early in the second half but their misses were severely punished.
The crowd may have been disappointingly low but they certainly got behind the Blues even before the first goal and just got better. And rightly so – it was a simply stunning display.