Fulham floored by Stead strike
By Chris Stanton
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Jon Stead's first goal for Sheffield United helped his team to a win over a poor Fulham.
Jon Stead's first goal for Sheffield United helped his team to a 2-0 win over a poor Fulham to move the hosts seven points clear of the relegation zone.
Neil Warnock's side will have scarcely faced such accommodating opposition as Chris Coleman's Fulham - once Stead had given his team the lead in the 23rd minute there was only ever going to be one winner.
Fulham created barely a chance worthy of the name all night and United's second goal - fashioned and scored by Michael Tonge - just five minutes later sealed the three points at Bramall Lane.
The theme was clear as early as the first minute. Antti Niemi's loose clearance presented Rob Hulse with a sniff of goal but the striker lifted his shot wide.
A purposeful run from Stead fed Stephen Quinn and, with the freedom of the area and just Niemi to beat, the youngster looked odds-on to score but shot just wide of the post.
Fulham had pieced together only sporadic attacks with their front pairing of Vincenzo Montella and Brian McBride feeding off scraps.
In the 23rd minute United gained a deserved lead, with Stead claiming his first goal for the club. Nick Montgomery played in the striker who turned away from Zat Knight's token resistance before lashing a high shot inside Niemi's near post.
Five minutes later and the lead was doubled. After Ian Pearce had cleared the ball, Tonge kept the pressure on and Stephen Quinn delivered a cross to the far post where Tonge tapped home.
Fulham's first half performance had Coleman seething - just 33 minutes had elapsed when he had seen enough, Montella was withdrawn for the more rugged threat of Heidar Helguson.
Not that it made much difference - from Colin Kazim-Richards's cross Hulse headed wide as the first half drew to an uncomfortable close for the visitors.
The second half was almost entirely devoid of goalmouth incident - for which The Cottagers were probably grateful.
Coleman's team did at least regroup, albeit without creating a genuine scoring chance.
Brian McBride's header wide promised a second half rally that failed to materialise which was all the more surprising considering the visitors were defending a 10-match unbeaten run.
Content with their lot, United offered little adventure of their own. Quinn shot wide and Stead also tried his luck from distance.
A wild shot from former Blade Michael Brown brought jeers from the home fans, before Stead crossed for strike partner Hulse but the angle was too tight.
Another surging run and cross from Quinn forced Niemi to shuffle the ball away with Hulse in close attendance once more.
The same player then eluded the grasp of Pearce to strike acrobatically against the crossbar as The Blades ran out convincing winners.
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|Sheffield United||Team Statistics||Fulham|
|2||1st Half Goals||0|
|8||Shots on Target||0|
|8||Shots off Target||7|