Football: Blades closer to safety

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Everton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Sheffield United. . . . . . . . . . . .2

DAVE BASSETT'S battling Sheffield United all but secured another season in the top flight with a convincing win over an aimless Everton.

Carl Bradshaw's well-taken headed goal and Glyn Hodges' second bite of the cherry after Neville Southall first saved his penalty secured the points.

After this win, United look almost certain to stay up and only an unlikely mathematical misfortune will pull them into the First Division.

Sheffield took the lead on the quarter-hour with Bradshaw's powerful header from Mitch Ward's right-wing cross. The goal followed a high-class piece of play between Brian Dean and Dane Whitehouse running through the centre before Ward was fed on the overlap.

In the 25th minute, United were awarded a penalty after Deane, on his own, fell to earth after Gary Ablett's innocuous- looking challenge. Southall saved Hodges' penalty but the Welshman was quickest to the rebound and shot home.

United had the first shot of the half with Hodges testing Southall with a powerful drive. Deane and Charles Hartfield then played a neat one-two to send Hartfield through but with only Southall to beat, he sliced wide.

This only spurred on Everton but when Predrag Radosavljevic was tripped just inside the area, referee Callow chose to interpret the challenge as fair.

Bassett said afterwards: 'We are 99.9 per cent certain of staying up. I shall feel a little bit younger tomorrow morning.'

Everton: Southall; Holmes, Hinchcliffe, Ebbrell, Jackson, Ablett, Radosavljevic (Barlow, 74), Beardsley, Cottee, Horne (Moore, h/t), Beagrie. Substitute not used: Kearton (gk).

Sheffield United: Kelly; Ward, Beesley, Hartfield, Gayle, Pemberton, Bradshaw, Rogers, Hodges, Deane, Whitehouse. Substitutes not used: Littlejohn, Hoyland, Leighton (gk).

Referee: V Callow (Solihull).