Sheffield United 2-0 Leeds United
Micky Adams’ Sheffield United defeated local rivals Leeds 2-0 in Saturday’s Yorkshire derby to keep alive their hopes of avoiding relegation.
An own goal by Eric Lichaj, and a goal from substitute Bjorn Helge Riise in the second half gave United back-to-back home wins for the first time this season. The victory moved them up to 22nd in the Championship, four points behind Crystal Palace.
Adams was delighted with his team’s performance, “I thought there was a commitment about the team,” he said. “All around the pitch we were better.”
“Leeds United would come and expect to win the game today, but it’s never as easy as that.”Despite the scoreline, the best chance of the first half came for the visitors when Lichaj swung a cross towards Max Gradel at the back post, but the Leeds winger headed across goal and wide.
Adams showed his attacking desire from the outset, selecting Sam Vokes, Ched Evans and Daniel Bogdanovic together in a three-pronged attack. The latter should have scored when Evans cleverly flicked on Montgomery’s cross to leave Bogdanovic unmarked with only Kasper Schmeichel to beat.
Evans’ moment of ingenuity appeared to take Bogdanovic by surprise though, and his poor first touch gave Schmeichel time to block the striker’s effort.
Quinn and Evans both forced Schmeichel into a series of acrobatic saves before the break.
The home crowd appreciated such willingness to attack, and a team more accustomed to being jeered off the pitch received a standing ovation as they headed for the tunnel.
United turned up the pressure in the second half, with Stephen Quinn orchestrating the assaults on Leeds’ defence.
Just 10 minutes in to the half he was given space on the right wing and raced to the byline before sliding a first time pass to the feet of Nick Montgomery whose cross was inadvertently tapped in by the unlucky Lichaj.
The only part of Quinn’s game missing was his uncanny ability to link up with Riise. The Norwegian was introduced as a substitute after 72 minutes though, and moments later the duo teamed up to devastating effect.
Quinn cut inside the Leeds penalty area from the right flank, and with Riise on the overlap he saw space behind Leeds’ defence to play the incisive pass. Riise collected the ball and coolly slotted between Schmeichel’s legs.
Gradel could have grabbed a late consolation goal when Simonsen failed to deal with a free kick but Vokes and Matthew Lowton stood firm on the line to clear the danger. Billy Paynter’s red card for an alleged stamp on Shane Lowry added to Leeds boss Simon Grayson’s woes.
Grayson criticised his team’s lack of cohesion, but he took responsibility for the defeat. “Too many played as individuals and not as a team.”
“It’s a Yorkshire derby and we didn’t play like it was,” he said. “We got out of the game what we deserved. Nothing.”
Away teams have rarely felt the taste of defeat as they walked down the Bramall lane at full time this season. It is a feeling that United will hope to inflict on a few more opponents before the season’s end.#
1. Steve Simonsen, 3. Nyron Nosworthy, 34. Matthew Lowton, 21. Shane Lowry, 20. Joe Mattock, 28. Stephen Quinn, 8. Michael Doyle, 4. Nick Montgomery (38. Riise 72’), 10. Daniel Bogdanovic (11. Mark Yeates 90’), 9. Ched Evans (17. Richard Cresswell 83’) 19. Sam Vokes.
Substitutes not used: 13. Mihkel Aksalu, 22. Rob Kozluk, 37. Marcus Bent, 40. Harry Maguire.
Next Fixture: Queens Park Rangers (A) Monday April 4
1. Kasper Schmeichel, 20. Eric Lichaj, 26. Leigh Bromby, 40. Andy O’Brien, 29. George McCartney (27. Davide Somma), 25. Barry Bannan, 16. Bradley Johnson, 23. Robert Snodgrass (18. Sanchez Watt 83’), 14. Jonathan Howson, 7. Max Gradel, 10. Luciano Becchio (9. Billy Paynter 67’). 23, 728
Substitutes not used: 4. Alex Bruce, 6. Richard Naylor, 8. Neil Kilkenny, 12. Shane Higgs.
Next Fixture: Nottingham Forest (H) Saturday April 2