Football: It's a White Christmas

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The Independent Online
Manchester City. . .2

Sheffield United. . 0

CHRISTMAS is traditionally a time of cheer for Sheffield United. After their annual spell of cold turkey in the relegation zone, they usually begin to climb as the decorations come down, but this was not the 'White' Christmas they had been dreaming of.

For it was David of that name whose two goals cooked their goose. City provided the glitter, United were plum duff.

With Steve McMahon dominating midfield and Mike Sheron and Rick Holden dangerous down the flanks, City's patient probing was bound to be rewarded but, when the deadlock was broken, it was a classic Route One goal of which the Blades would have been proud. Tony Coton's goal-kick was flicked on by Niall Quinn, White beat the offside trap and coolly lobbed the advancing Alan Kelly. His second, 10 minutes after the interval, was more typical of City's careful approach work, Holden crossing and White finishing with a near-post header.

Both sides have been dogged this season by the inability of their big strikers, Quinn and Brian Deane, to score goals. The difference is that Quinn's work-rate makes amends and helps White and Sheron to their fair share of goals. Moments after creating City's opener he kicked one of United's best efforts off the line.

Sheffield, on the other hand, have yet to find an alternative source as Deane's dry spell continues and Dave Bassett experiments with striking partners. Carl Bradshaw filled the role yesterday, and hit the bar with a bicycle kick and brought a one-handed save from Coton, but when Deane was carried off after a collision with Andy Hill, there was no sign of a happier New Year for United.

Manchester City: T Coton; I Brightwell, T Phelan, S McMahon, K Curle, A Hill, D White, M Sheron, N Quinn, G Flitcroft, R Holden. Subs not used: P Reid, D Brightwell, M Margetson (gk). Manager: P Reid.

Sheffield United: A Kelly; C Kamara, D Barnes, J Gannon, J Pemberton, P Beesley, M Ward (A Cork, 65 min), P Rogers, C Bradshaw, B Deane (J Hoyland, 78 min), G Hodges. Sub not used: K Veysey (gk). Manager: D Bassett.

Referee: K Barratt (Coventry).

Goals: White (1-0, 21 min); White (2-0, 55 min).