Howard strike lifts Blades
Sheffield United have climbed into second in the table following a crucial 1-0 success at Reading.
Last Updated: 11/04/09 5:47pm
Sheffield United have climbed into second in the Championship table following a crucial 1-0 success at Reading.
Brian Howard guided home the only goal of the game just before the hour mark to secure a priceless victory for The Blades at The Madejski Stadium.
Reading, who have struggled at home of late, were inches from taking the lead when Dave Kitson's header struck the crossbar shortly before Howard's winner.
Darius Henderson could and should have added a second in injury time, but blazed his effort well over Marcus Hahnemann's crossbar.
The three-point haul moves The Blades into second in the table behind leaders Wolves while Reading may have to now settle for a play-off place.
Reading's last home win was way back on January 27 and it was the confident visitors who had the first sight of goal when Kyle Naughton's deep cross was headed wide by John-Joe O'Toole.
Greg Halford then thought he had given the visitors the lead but his effort after a blocked O'Toole shot was flagged for offside.
Blades midfielder Howard then marred a fine start by picking up his 10th booking of the season after clattering Chris Armstrong with a stray elbow, picking up a two-game suspension in the process.
Reading defender Michael Duberry then wasted the first half's best chance with a finish befitting a centre-half with just six league goals to his name in nearly 300 appearances.
Marek Matejovsky's corner was cleared back to the Czech Republic midfielder and his second ball in fell kindly for Duberry on the left-hand side of the six-yard box but the former Leeds and Chelsea man wildly slashed his effort high into the stand.
Henderson then capped an all-action display with a challenge on Kalifa Cisse which led to the Reading man being carried off on a motorised cart.
The Mali international was taken to hospital as a precaution and his height was missed when Chris Morgan headed over from a Halford throw at the start of the second period.
Blackwell introduced an extra forward in the form of Craig Beattie as the Blades smelled blood but it was the hosts who came close to opening the scoring in the 58th minute.
Crashed against the crossbar
Jamie Ward carelessly lost the ball in midfield and after Stephen Hunt had fed Jimmy Kebe his near-post cross was headed against the crossbar by Kitson.
Undeterred, Blackwell's side went forward and took the lead a minute later.
Slick play between Henderson and Halford freed Ward down the right and his deep cross was looped back over Marcus Hahnemann by Kilgallon - only for the ball to hit the crossbar.
However, Howard was alert to the rebound and his right-footed drive squirmed off an attempted block from Hunt and dribbled into the bottom corner.
Kitson then immediately went close to an equaliser with a rasping volley from the edge of the area which forced Paddy Kenny into a fine save.
Coppell's side pushed men forward more in desperation than expectation but the visitors held on to claim three huge points which will give their followers genuine belief that they can return to the Premier League.