BLADES SLICE AND DICE CITY
INTO THE FA Cup quarterfinals and now climbing the table after their fifth straight win, things are suddenly looking rosy for Sheffield United.
Having moved out of the relegation zone in midweek, Nigel Clough’s side put fellow strugglers Bristol City to the sword through goals from John Brayford, Ryan Flynn and Jose Baxter.
But in stark contrast to the buoyant mood of the hosts, Bristol City boss Steve Cotterill was moved to lambast his side for their lacklustre performance at Bramall Lane.
The furious manager said:“We were abysmal. For 90 minutes we didn’t look like we would get anything. We were well-rested, we trained hard for the week and we didn’t put one thing into practice.
“It’s tough for me to take, because I’m a winner and when my team doesn’t reflect me that hurts.
“We were poor.We had a great following, and we let them down big time. We were lethargic in everything we did. When we needed composure we didn’t have it.
“And we gave away a stupid first goal – we worked all week on throw-ins and corners and then just before half-time we didn’t defend one properly.
“It was a poor performance from us.”
Having been on top throughout the half, the Blades were rewarded on 43 minutes when Brayford fired in at the back post after Harry Maguire headed Baxter’s corner on.
Flynn doubled the lead on 57 minutes with a low finish across Simon Moore, though it was Jamie Murphy who made the goal having run from deep in his own half to tee it up.
Murphy was involved again on 61 minutes, beating Marlon Pack’s wild tackle and running from deep to find Conor Coady who shot into the side netting from a tight angle.
The third arrived on 70 minutes though, Baxter converting from the spot after Flynn was brought down in the area by Karleigh Osborne’s clumsy challenge.
Bristol City nearly grabbed a consolation in the dying minutes when Mark Howard palmed a bouncing shot into Sam Baldock’s path, but he recovered well to save before Tyrone Barnett blazed the rebound over.
And Blades coach Chris Morgan hopes their new-found winning mentality can continue to carry them up the table.
He said: “There have been some difficult games in this run of wins and to get the results is great – particularly the two we’ve had this week after the Nottingham Forest game.
“All five wins took lots of effort. It was always going to be close here, and you could see neither team wanted to lose it.
“Getting that first goal was vital and then obviously the second one settles things down a little bit for us.
“The way the lads have played in the last few weeks has been impressive, and their work rate, has been great but we’ve now got to keep that going.”
SHEFFIELD UNITED: (4-4-1-1): Howard 7, Brayford 7, Harris 6 (Hill 68 6), Maguire 7, Collins 7, Flynn 8 (Davies 71 6), Scougall 6, Coady 7, Doyle 6, Baxter 7, Murphy 9 (Paynter 77 6) Subs not used: Long, Porter, Miller, Kennedy
BRISTOL CITY: (4-4-2): Moore 6, Osborne 4, Williams 6, El-Abd 6, Flint 6, Baldock 5, Cunningham 5 (Pearson 70 6), Pack 5 (Reid 70 6), Elliott 7, Barnett 4, Emmanuel-Thomas 5 (Burns 76 6) Subs
not used: Fielding, Moloney, Bryan, Gillett
STAR MAN JAMIE MURPH
Y SheffUtd HAPPY CHAP: John Brayford celebrates the Blade’s first goal. Inset: Ryan Flynn scores their second