Blades ease past Leeds
By Alex Dunn
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Sheffield United took maximum spoils in a derby at Bramall Lane as they beat Leeds.Sheffield United took maximum spoils in a Yorkshire derby at Bramall Lane, as they defeated Leeds 2-0 with comparative ease.
For a Yorkshire derby that has a history of being volatile, the opening exchanges were tepid in comparison - punctuated only by occasional moments of lethargic niggle.
Leeds started with Julian Joachim and Michael Ricketts playing off Brian Deane and as a consequence, repeatedly tried to hit the former Blade with long balls, too often misdirected.
Whilst the game was bereft of genuine quality, Sheffield United had in Andy Gray a willing runner of the channels and a player capable of fashioning his own openings.
However, it was Ricketts who spurned the first half-chance of the contest when after cutting inside the Blades backline, he could only drag his effort wide.
Michael Tonge then drilled into the side netting of Neill Sullivan's goal, as Neil Warnock's industrious outfit began to dictate the play.
Ashley Ward should have netted when taking advantage of a fortuitous break in the Leeds box and then the livewire Gray spurned the first of three first half opportunities by dragging his shot wide of the far post.
From a corner kick, Chris Morgan headed wide when unmarked in the Leeds area, before Frazer Richardson forced Paddy Kenny in to his first save of the contest.
If the first period lacked the normal excitement of a derby game, then Ashley Ward was keen to rectify the situation and duly did so five minutes in.
The willing running of Michael Tonge took him past a pair of tired looking challenges and when he fed Ward with a cute through ball, the former Bradford hitman finished with some aplomb past an under protected Neil Sullivan.
Sullivan needed to be at his sharpest to thwart Morgan and then Jon Harley stamped his previous Premiership credentials on the proceedings by curling home a majestic free-kick on 68.
After Gray was felled in full flight by an awkward challenge from Michael Duberry, Harley dispatched with the type of style out of synch with the rest of the game.
Harley's strike effectively ended the contest and whilst the unfortunate Duberry somehow managed to strike Kenny's bar from five yards, Kevin Blackwell's side were devoid of attacking ideas and woeful in their marking at the back.
Ward could have grabbed his second when he hit the woodwork with a well directed header but Warnock with be more than content with a comprehensive and professional victory at Bramall Lane.