Blades hold off battling Owls
Sheff Utd held off a battling second-half fightback from Sheff Wed in the 124th Steel City derby.
Last Updated: 18/09/09 10:00pm
Sheffield United held off a battling second-half fightback from Sheffield Wednesday to secure victory in the 124th Steel City derby.
The Blades looked to be home and hosed by the interval as some slack Owls defending allowed Kevin Blackwell's side to roar into a 3-0 lead.
Jamie Ward opened the scoring in just the seventh minute, Darius Henderson added a second before Lewis Buxton headed into his own net on the stroke of half-time.
But Brian Laws' men were transformed after the break with substitute Etienne Esajas at the heart of their recovery, which ultimately fell just short.
Esajas was involved in Marcus Tudgay's equaliser seconds after the re-start before drilling home a superb free-kick (65) which gave home goalkeeper Mark Bunn no chance.
Further opportunities came at both ends of the field, but it was the Blades who were celebrating at the final whistle having been beaten home and away by their bitter rivals last term.
Victory lifts the Blades up to fourth place in the table and leaves Brian Laws' Owls reflecting on a one-point return from their last three league matches in the space of six days.
More importantly, for now, United snatched back the bragging rights following a 1-0 reverse at Hillsborough last season followed by a 2-1 defeat on home soil in February.
Earlier in the day the Blades drafted Andrew Davies in on loan from Stoke in time to replace Matt Kilgallon, who has a chest infection, while the only other change to Blackwell's line-up saw Andy Taylor step in for Ryan France at left-back.
James O'Connor returned to the Owls midfield in place of Tommy Miller. Otherwise, Laws' side were unchanged.
Centre-half Davies was booked for a foul on Tudgay in the fourth minute and then forced Wednesday goalkeeper Lee Grant to tip his header from Keith Treacy's cross over the crossbar before Ward fired the Blades into a seventh-minute lead.
Home skipper Chris Morgan headed Treacy's corner down into the six-yard box and the little striker turned in a flash to shoot past Grant from five yards.
Blackwell's side doubled their lead in the 15th minute. The Owls defence only half-cleared from a free-kick and when Ched Evans arrowed the ball back into the penalty area, Henderson flicked out his left foot to divert the ball past the wrong-footed Grant.
Wednesday responded, but Blades goalkeeper Mark Bunn palmed Tudgay's header from Michael Gray's free-kick over the crossbar.
Goalscorer Ward was forced out of the action in the 33rd minute and later carried off on a stretcher after he pulled up holding his hamstring following a challenge with Jermaine Johnson.
Ward was replaced by David Cotterill, while O'Connor was booked for his lunge on Nick Montgomery and crude challenge on Treacy shortly after.
The visitors were then dealt a hammer blow three minutes from the interval.
Cotterill swept a deep cross into the area from the right and the hapless Buxton, with the big frame of Henderson on his shoulder, headed the ball into the top corner of his own net.
Esajas replaced Owls winger Johnson at half-time and soon after the restart the visitors pulled a goal back when Tudgay volleyed a right-footed shot from just inside the area into the bottom corner.
Esajas then hauled the visitors to within one goal of an unlikely fightback after Richard Wood was penalised for his challenge on Cotterill 25 yards from goal, with the Dutchman crashing his free-kick into the bottom corner.Grant denied the Blades a fourth goal when brilliantly palming away Henderson's header from Montgomery's free-kick and later pulled off an even better save to turn away Evans' thumping drive as the home side looked to add a fourth and kill the game in the closing stages.
|Sheffield United||Team Statistics||Sheffield Wednesday|
|3||1st Half Goals||0|
|8||Shots on Target||7|
|5||Shots off Target||6|