Football: Deane helps Blades to cut through rain

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Sheffield United. . . .1

Manchester City. . . . 1

A SPLENDID late equaliser from Brian Deane gave Sheffield United a point that lifted them above Crystal Palace in the Premier League relegation struggle.

The weather, and a greater need for points, gave the Blades the early edge over a City side with little left to play for. Torrential rain meant Bramall Lane was in no condition for fancy footwork and United, who are rarely accused of that at the best of times, raised a series of alarms with their direct assault on the City penalty area.

City were content to wait for the break and one came - albeit of the lucky variety - after only eight minutes. Their player-manager Peter Reid briefly brought some order to a chaotic encounter with a nicely-weighted lob to David White, which found United short of cover on the right. The danger seemed to have passed when his cross went straight to John Pemberton, but the defender's attempted clearance flew past Alan Kelly into his own net.

United's pressure had left the back door open and they almost made the same mistake when Kare Ingebrigsten raced clear, but the Norweigan international's shot had more power than direction.

Glyn Hodges should have restored parity with two good chances in a minute, but after beating three defenders he scooped his shot over the bar, and then a poor first touch let him down.

For an hour, United's leading scorer Deane looked as out of touch as he had in the midweek victory over Leeds. He failed to get his head to a tempting cross from Paul Beesley but redeemed himself in spectacular fashion moments later. Pemberton's ball was deflected into his path by Carl Bradshaw and the striker's right foot drive flew past Coton from 20 yards.

Sheffield United: Kelly; Gage, Whitehouse, Gannon, Gayle, Pemberton, Bradshaw, Beesley, Rogers, Deane, Hodges (Cork, 89). Substitutes not used: Hoyland, Leighton (gk).

Manchester City: Coton; Ranson, Phelan, Reid, Ingebrigsten, Vonk, White, Sheron, Quinn, Flitcroft, Holden. Substitutes not used: Simpson, Margetson (gk) Quigley.

Referee: K Cooper (Pontypridd).