Football: Dominant Deane deflates Burnley

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The Independent Online
THE Blades only just earned this replay with a last-minute equaliser, but last night they were much the stronger and quicker team, their highly valued striker Brian Deane scoring a first-half hat-trick that put Hartlepool's destination in the FA Cup's fourth round beyond doubt.

The Pennines were strewn with snow but Turf Moor's pitch lived up to its traditional excellent reputation. If the wind was cold the ground was crowded in all but the Sheffield United enclosure, which had to fill up gradually as their supporters struggled down a blocked motorway.

Adrian Littlejohn should have put the visitors ahead; Steve Davis's well placed free-kick reached Glyn Hodges wide on the left and his long cross was met perfectly outside the far post by Littlejohn, who headed six inches wide. From the goal-kick the ball bounced right for Adrian Heath, in his best Evertonian style, to zip through the Blades' back four, and draw Alan Kelly for yet another FA Cup goal.

The Second Division club's supporters were still celebrating four minutes later when Hodges crossed from the right, Alan Cork nodded on and Deane equalised with an expert header from his first opportunity.

His second would have arrived after 25 minutes but for a brave snatch by Marlon Beresford, but a minute later United's tall striker waited for Littlejohn's cross to head over the keeper, just inside the far post, the Premier League team taking the lead in this tie for the first time.

The hat-trick was completed on the interval, David Barnes producing the cross and Deane sailing in to head his third with supreme confidence. His fourth should have arrived in the 48th minute when he shot over the bar from 15 yards.

Burnley tried to beef up their physical presence by sending on Roger Eli in the second half and they did please the crowd of 19,061 with a spirited refusal to accept elimination. Mike Conroy screwed a shot wide from eight yards.

By the 58th minute their options had declined even further, this time Deane making the break for Littlejohn to take the pass inside and shoot the fourth goal.

When play became academic, Burnley proved they were still capable of getting Dave Bassett off his bench, Mark Monington reducing the deficit in the 62nd minute and Conroy hitting the crossbar in the 81st as some United supporters were still arriving.

Burnley: Beresford; Mesham, Jakub, Davis, Pender, Farrell (Eli, h/t), Monington, Randall, Heath, Conroy, Harper. Substitute not used: Painter.

Sheffield United: Kelly; Gage, Barnes, Hoyland, Gayle, Beesley, Cork, Rogers, Littlejohn, Deane, Hodges (Bradshaw, 87). Substitute not used: Ward.

Referee: R Wiseman (Borehamwood, Herts).