The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Stephen Thirkill

NIGEL CLOUGH was bub­bling af­ter what he termed a ‘mas­sive win’ for his pro­mo­tion-chasers.

Jose Bax­ter’s 29th-minute penalty was enough to give the Blades a vi­tal win – their first victory in six – and stretch the gap to sev­en­th­placed Barns­ley to three points.

“We were des­per­ate for the win, es­pe­cially with teams around us pick­ing up points,” he said.

“This was a mas­sive win for us go­ing into a big game on Tues­day at home to Scun­thorpe.

“We have the game in hand in mid­week and it is our chance to ce­ment our­selves in the play-off places.

“There was a good tempo to our game and Mark Howard did not have a lot to do in terms of shots to save.

“The fans were ex­cel­lent again. It was an im­por­tant day for us in what is go­ing to be a big week.”

Vale boss Rob Page – whose side had ex-Blade Michael Brown sent off late on – was left to re­flect on a poor first half as his side slipped to their fourth de­feat in five.

“We were much bet­ter in the sec­ond half,” he in­sisted. “Tom Pope gave us a threat up topm as did Colin Daniel’s pace.

“We gave it a good go but the ball just would not go for us. We felt set-pieces would be im­por­tant be­cause of our size, but we just did not man­age to get on the end of things.

“I did not think Michael Brown’s first book­ing was a book­ing. He got the ball but you can’t tackle like that in mod­ern foot- ball. It is a shame be­cause it kills the art of tack­ling. We can­not grum­ble. We just have to get on with things.”

Steven Davies fluffed an ef­fort on 20 min­utes, be­fore Jamie Mur­phy tested Chris Neal with a pow­er­ful long-range strike a minute later.

Davies shot just wide from the an­gle of the box on 27 min­utes as United en­joyed the bet­ter of the pos­ses­sion.

Jose Bax­ter then coolly fired United ahead from the spot af­ter Mur­phy had been hacked down on 29 min­utes.

Davies had a goal ruled out for off­side a minute later af­ter he had fired into the roof of the net.

Vale came out fight­ing af­ter the break and Michael O’Con­nor’s rasp­ing 30yarder forced Mark Howard into a good save.

Fred­eric Ve­seli nearly scored di­rect from a cor­ner when his in­swing­ing cross threat­ened to fool the United goal­keeper on 50 min­utes. Pope fired wide while off bal­ance on 62 min­utes af­ter a burst­ing run by Daniel had cre­ated the open­ing.

Vale un­suc­cess­fully pushed for the equaliser in the closing stages with Brown, Mar­cus Mar­shall and Daniel all fail­ing to hit the tar­get. The Vale mis­ery was com­plete in stop­page time when Brown was sent off for his sec­ond book­ing.

PIC­TURES: Me­dia Im­age Ltd

BAX TO WIN­NING WAYS: Sh­effield United's Jose Bax­ter scores from the spot DE­NIED: Steven Davies turns to cel­e­brate scor­ing only to be ruled off­side STAR MAN JAMIE MUR­PHY Sh­effield United

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