CHEERY CLOUGH EYES BIG WEEK
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.
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