Defender Aden Flint scored his sixth goal of the season as Bristol City held off a potent Sheffield United attack to win 2-1 in the Sky Bet Championship on Friday evening.
The Robins were under the cosh for the majority of the clash with Chris Wilder's Blades but took the lead entirely against the run of play when Jamie Paterson curled home.
Leading Championship scorer Leon Clarke was afforded the space to smash in an equaliser after the restart (48), but the Blades were reduced to 10 men on the hour mark when John Fleck saw red for a reckless challenge on Korey Smith.
The Blades continued to press, but it was the visitors who took all three points when Flint guided home Bobby Reid's cross leaving the surprise promotion candidates within three points of Cardiff in second.
Sheff Utd: Moore (6), Baldock (6), Stevens (6), Fleck (6), O'Connell (6), Basham (6), Lundstram (6), Clarke (7), Sharp (6), Stearman (6), Duffy (7)
Subs: Brooks (5), Donaldson (5), Carruthers (N/A)
Bristol City: Fielding (8), Wright (7), Flint (8), Baker (6), Bryan (6), Brownhill (7), Smith (6), Pack (6), Eliasson (5), Paterson (7), Reid (6)
Subs: Djuric (5), Taylor (5), Leko (4)
Man of the match: Aden Flint
With memories of an uncharacteristic defeat against Millwall last weekend, Wilder's men set out to stamp their mark on the game early on, and for much of the first half, it was the hosts versus City goalkeeper Frank Fielding.
The stopper was called into action with almost every attack, and though he was nearly beaten when Mark Duffy clattered a free-kick onto the far post, he had to be at his very best to keep out Billy Sharp's close-range effort as the break approached.
Bristol City were certainly on the back foot, but in a classic example of a smash-and-grab, it was Lee Johnson's men who went into the break ahead. When Smith was fouled by Enda Stevens on the halfway line; Josh Brownhill then squared for Paterson, who cut inside Jack O'Connell before hitting an unstoppable curling effort past Simon Moore.
Simon Moore, George Baldock and Billy Sharp all started for the Blades as they looked to bounce back from last weekend's surprise defeat to Millwall. Meanwhile, Niclas Eliasson was handed his second league start for the visitors.
Clarke had already scored nine in his previous five games before this evening, and he added another to his ever-increasing tally five minutes into the second half when Nathan Baker gave him too much time to arrow a lethal effort across Fielding.
Fleck received his marching orders for a nasty two-footed challenge that curtailed the evening for Smith, and that proved to be the difference when the Robins made the extra man count in the first minute of stoppage time.
Reid managed to get his cross away to the far post, and Flint - who last week joked that he should be given the number seven shirt - was there to tuck the cross under Moore to seal the win.
Man of the match - Aden Flint
Not only did he grab the winner - his sixth goal of the season - but Flint was a rock at the back, keeping the strong Sheffield United attack at bay on countless occasions. This man is becoming a real match-winner for Lee Johnson's men.
Chris Wilder: "We couldn't have done any more, the reaction from last week was first class. It's easy to play when the sun is shining, but when things are going against you, players have got to stick their chests out and give a performance.
"The keeper has made some fantastic saves and we've hit the woodwork four times. We're disappointed with some refereeing decisions in the lead up to their winner, but they are out of our control. All I can look at and measure in terms of the way we played tonight and I thought it was first class."
Lee Johnson: "I think it's a great win first and foremost - I'm delighted with the points. I thought Sheffield United were outstanding in the first half and we had to do something to change it quickly. Slowly we built into the game, obviously got a bit of fortune with the sending off and then I think we completely controlled it.
"We'll have to start using him [Flint] up front - he's been fantastic. There was some well-documented press about him moving in the summer but we're desperate to keep hold of him; he's a bit of a cult hero."
Both sides are next in action on Saturday, December 16 - the Robins welcome Nottingham Forest, while Sheffield United travel to Deepdale to face Preston.