Championship
Sheff Utd1Middlesbrough0

Sheffield United 1-0 Middlesbrough: Blades cut gap at top of Championship

Richard Stearman
Sheffield United's Richard Stearman (19) scored for the first time in 51 weeks

Sheffield United moved to within two points of the Championship's automatic promotion places with victory over 10-man Middlesbrough at Bramall Lane.

Richard Stearman headed in Oliver Norwood's curling free-kick to give the Blades the lead a minute after top scorer Billy Sharp had a goal disallowed for offside.

Boro's night got worse four minutes later when centre-back Daniel Ayala was sent off for two yellow cards in the space of seven minutes.

Substitute Britt Assombalonga had the best chance to bring Boro level, but Dean Henderson saved with his legs after the striker was through on goal.

The win sees the third-placed Blades close in on second-placed Norwich, who lost 3-1 at Preston to slip from the summit of the second tier after Leeds beat Swansea City.

Both goalkeepers provided the highlights of an uneventful first half - Boro's Darren Randolph making a fantastic one-handed save from Mark Duffy's excellent shot after six minutes before Henderson tipped Jordan Hugill's effort past the post.

The visitors almost took the lead five minutes after the restart when George Friend's goal-bound header was cleared off the line by Enda Stevens.

Half-time substitute Gary Madine had two shouts for a penalty waved away shortly before Stearman's goal as Boro missed the chance to go above fifth-placed Bristol City.

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder told BBC Radio Sheffield:

"It was a good three points, a big win after what happened on Friday (surrendering a 3-0 lead at Aston Villa), so we're delighted.

"We had to shuffle the pack a little bit and it wasn't as fluid a performance as we'd have expected, but it was still an even game in the first half.

"There are different ways to win games of football, we try to play through teams and if not we have to go over the top and be a little bit more direct into the front men. We did that in the second half and I thought it worked a treat."

Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis told BBC Radio Tees:

"I'm really disappointed with the goal. I think the linesman's decision for it to be a free-kick is shocking. If they're going to give a free-kick for that then the lad who scored the goal has pushed and jumped on Dael (Fry) and the referee's in a great position to give it and doesn't give it. It's a free-kick every minute of the day.

"It was such a big game tonight and we have a referee who's only refereed eight games in the Championship all season.

"You look around and you've got other referees who are refereeing Premier League games and dropping down - that's not the referee's fault, that's the person in charge and that can't be right. That's not good enough."

Line-ups

Sheff Utd

  • 1Henderson
  • 28Cranie
  • 12Egan
  • 3Stevens
  • 2BaldockSubstituted forStearmanat 45'minutes
  • 16NorwoodBooked at 38mins
  • 4FleckBooked at 76mins
  • 8Dowell
  • 21DuffySubstituted forMadineat 45'minutes
  • 10SharpSubstituted forCouttsat 87'minutes
  • 17McGoldrick

Substitutes

  • 7Lundstram
  • 11Hogan
  • 14Madine
  • 15Coutts
  • 19Stearman
  • 20Bryan
  • 25Moore

Middlesbrough

  • 23Randolph
  • 4AyalaBooked at 64mins
  • 24FlintSubstituted forDowningat 34'minutes
  • 20Fry
  • 5ShottonBooked at 35mins
  • 22SavilleSubstituted forAssombalongaat 67'minutes
  • 2Mikel
  • 3Friend
  • 26Wing
  • 16HowsonSubstituted forvan La Parraat 81'minutes
  • 11Hugill

Substitutes

  • 1Konstantopoulos
  • 8Clayton
  • 9Assombalonga
  • 18Fletcher
  • 19Downing
  • 29van La Parra
  • 37Besic
Referee:
Andy Woolmer
Attendance:
24,805

Match Stats

Home TeamSheff UtdAway TeamMiddlesbrough
Possession
Home56%
Away44%
Shots
Home15
Away10
Shots on Target
Home5
Away4
Corners
Home4
Away4
Fouls
Home6
Away14

Live Text

Match ends, Sheffield United 1, Middlesbrough 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Sheffield United 1, Middlesbrough 0.

David McGoldrick (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Rajiv van La Parra (Middlesbrough).

Richard Stearman (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough).

Richard Stearman (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jordan Hugill (Middlesbrough).

Gary Madine (Sheffield United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough).

Attempt saved. Rajiv van La Parra (Middlesbrough) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Stewart Downing with a cross.

Substitution

Substitution, Sheffield United. Paul Coutts replaces Billy Sharp.

Foul by Billy Sharp (Sheffield United).

George Friend (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Middlesbrough. Rajiv van La Parra replaces Jonny Howson.

Attempt blocked. Dael Fry (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Attempt blocked. Lewis Wing (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by John Obi Mikel.

John Egan (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jordan Hugill (Middlesbrough).

Hand ball by David McGoldrick (Sheffield United).

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Booking

John Fleck (Sheffield United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Delay in match John Obi Mikel (Middlesbrough) because of an injury.

John Fleck (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Lewis Wing (Middlesbrough).

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Dean Henderson.

Attempt saved. Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jordan Hugill.

Offside, Middlesbrough. Dael Fry tries a through ball, but Jordan Hugill is caught offside.

Attempt saved. David McGoldrick (Sheffield United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Billy Sharp.

Substitution

Substitution, Middlesbrough. Britt Assombalonga replaces George Saville.

Attempt missed. John Fleck (Sheffield United) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

Attempt missed. Oliver Norwood (Sheffield United) right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the left is close, but misses to the left from a direct free kick.

Dismissal

Second yellow card to Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough) for a bad foul.

Kieran Dowell (Sheffield United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough).

Goal!

Goal! Sheffield United 1, Middlesbrough 0. Richard Stearman (Sheffield United) header from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Oliver Norwood with a cross following a set piece situation.

David McGoldrick (Sheffield United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by John Obi Mikel (Middlesbrough).

Offside, Sheffield United. Gary Madine tries a through ball, but Billy Sharp is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Gary Madine (Sheffield United) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right following a corner.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Leeds32187753361761
2Norwich32179661421960
3Sheff Utd32177854342058
4West Brom31159762402254
5Bristol City31158840301053
6Middlesbrough311312635241151
7Derby3114984336751
8Birmingham32111384940946
9Nottm Forest32111384638846
10Aston Villa32101485650644
11Hull32128124542344
12Swansea32128124239344
13Preston321110115047343
14Blackburn321110114349-643
15Brentford311010115043740
16Sheff Wed311010113445-1140
17Stoke32912113340-739
18QPR31116143947-839
19Wigan3297163246-1434
20Millwall31710143445-1131
21Reading32611153445-1129
22Rotherham32513143151-2028
23Bolton3268182147-2626
24Ipswich32310192455-3119
View full Championship table

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