The Football League Paper - - FA CUP SECOND RND - By Aaron Bower

MID­FIELDER Jose Baxter and sub­sti­tute Marc McNulty made the dif­fer­ence as Nigel Clough’s Sh­effield United pro­gressed into the third round of the FA Cup by sink­ing League Two Ply­mouth.

After a drab first half, the game sprung into life with three penal­ties in 15 min­utes.While Ar­gyle’s Reuben Reid missed the first, Baxter made no mis­take from the spot, fir­ing home on two oc­ca­sions to put United in con­trol.

McNulty sealed the win with a late third, and Blades boss Clough ad­mit­ted the for­ward gave his side a real lift to ad­vance into the next round.

“We strug­gled away in the first half with­out get­ting any re­ward, and the penalty for Ply­mouth was almost the wake-up call we re­ally needed,” he said.

“Once our goal went in though, some con­fi­dence started to re­turn to the side – it was a re­ally im­por­tant vic­tory for us out there, in all hon­esty.

“We were fear­ing the worst when they got the penalty, but the team showed good character to get a much needed win at home and progress.

“Marc gave us some great im­pe­tus when he came on. Ja­mal Camp­bell-Ryce strug­gled and the team were a bit flat in the first half, but those fresh legs gave us a real lift.

“We’re still in both the ma­jor cup com­pe­ti­tions mid­way through De­cem­ber, and for a League One side that’s a great ef­fort. It shows how hard we’ve been work­ing.”

The first half pro­vided lit­tle in the way of clear-cut chances and it was only after the break when the game truly sprung into life with chances.

The first spot-kick was awarded when Blades de­fender Chris Basham hacked down Lewis Alessandra to give the vis­i­tors the chance to go in front.

How­ever, Reid’s penalty was way off tar­get with the for­ward blaz­ing his ef­fort high and wide to keep the game level.

And just eight min­utes later, the Blades were in front via a penalty of their own.

Ben Pur­ring­ton chopped down sub McNulty, and Baxter made no mis­take, fir­ing past Luke McCormick to put the home side in front.

It was 2-0 seven min­utes later; ref­eree Gary Sut­ton awarded his third penalty of the af­ter­noon when Michael Doyle was brought down inside the box, and Baxter again smashed home to put the Blades within touch­ing dis­tance of the third round.

Ar­gyle of­fered lit­tle hope of a come­back, and with seconds left off nor­mal time, McNulty turned home a su­perb cross from Florent Cu­ve­lier to seal a fan­tas­tic af­ter­noon for Bra­mall Lane boss Clough.

Ar­gyle boss John Sheri­dan felt that had the penalty from Reid gone in to give the vis­i­tors the lead early in the sec­ond half, the game could have had a com­pletely dif­fer­ent out­come.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing to lose 3-0; I was pleased with how we played in the first half, we looked re­ally dan­ger­ous on the break,” Sheri­dan said.

“The penalty was the break we wanted, and if we had scored that goal it would have prob­a­bly been a com­pletely dif­fer­ent story out there.

“We could have held on and the crowd would have got on their backs.

“We just lacked that lit­tle bit of qual­ity after that; we gave the ball away too cheaply and we didn’t fin­ish the game all that well.

“There was some­thing there for us out there but we let it slip. The first penalty of theirs was com­i­cal.

“I don’t know what we were think­ing mak­ing a tackle like that inside the area.

“After the sec­ond penalty went in our heads dropped, and it was clear the game was up for us after that mo­ment.”

PIC­TURES: Pin­na­cle

SPOT ON: Sh­effield United’s Jose Baxter scores the first of his two penal­ties



MR COOL: Jose Baxter cel­e­brates

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