Sheffield United 2-0 Burton: Blades close gap to play-offs places
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 13/03/18 11:44pm
Sheffield United beat Burton 2-0 to close the gap on the Sky Bet Championship play-offs to two points.
Enda Stevens celebrated his first Republic of Ireland call-up by converting George Baldock's 29th-minute cross and David Brooks grabbed a second after 64 minutes.
The result leaves the Blades seventh - two points behind Middlesbrough - while Burton are now three points from safety.
The visitors had the first chance of the game when Lloyd Dyer's angled shot forced keeper Jamal Blackman to palm the ball wide.
United's John Fleck played a low ball across the face of goal, but there was no-one there to apply the finish.
Fleck then fired in a shot which struck team-mate James Wilson before United took the lead just before the half-hour mark.
The goal came when Baldock found Stevens inside the area and the wing-back finished with ease.
Burton threatened on a couple of occasions in the latter stages of the half, first when Marvin Sordell and Tom Flanagan combined to set up Hope Akpan whose back-heeled effort was blocked.
Then Dyer was put through on goal again and his fierce shot forced a great save from Blackman.
United made a strong start to the second half with Baldock having an effort blocked and then Billy Sharp slid in to meet Wilson's cross at the far post but he was unable to direct the ball on target.
Burton appealed for a penalty when Sordell went down under a challenge inside the area, but referee Scott Duncan was unmoved.
Visiting keeper Stephen Bywater was then called into action to keep out a shot from Mark Duffy.
Darren Bent had a chance to equalise when he met a corner from Jacob Davenport, but he headed wide.
Brooks (64) made it 2-0 just a couple of minutes after coming on as a substitute, producing an impressive finish following a fine interchange between Sharp and Duffy.
Evans threatened to add a third with a thunderous drive which clipped the top of the bar and the lively Brooks put a shot off-target.
The visitors made a double substitution in the 82nd minute with Luke Varney and Jake Buxton coming on in place of Bent and Flanagan.
The changes failed to spark a revival, however, with Fleck going close in the final minute of the match when Bywater made a fine save to keep out his free-kick, touching the ball wide.
Burton face a battle to retain their Championship status having won just once in 11 league outings and failing to score in their last four games.
Chris Wilder: "It was a tough game. It was important that we got the first goal, but they were always in the game. We struggled to break them down and find the killer pass. Credit to the opposition because they were stubborn.
"They'll take points off people between now and the end of the season and I wouldn't be surprised if they get enough points to stay up because of the pressure on other clubs around them. Fortunately for us, we took our chances and won the game."
Nigel Clough: "We played well, created chances and missed chances. We gave a poor goal away. In the key moments, in both penalty areas, they were better than us. They have the players who will punish you.
"All the chances we created came from good play. We can set them up but the one thing we can't do is put the ball in the net. That's the difference between the two teams."