Hull City booked their place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for the first time in 37 years but only after a replay which left their Championship opponents seething with resentment after two key decisions went against them. Behind to a contentious opening goal that they felt was wrongly awarded, United drew level only to be denied what looked like a clear penalty before Peter Halmosi's second-half goal won Hull the right to face the winners of the delayed fifth-round tie between Arsenal and Burnley.
United's fury erupted after 25 minutes when a moment of contentious generosity from assistant referee Dave Bryan gave Hull the lead, the Lincolnshire official signalling a goal that television replays from every angle exposed as an error.
It would have been bizarre enough had it been legitimate, United defender Kyle Naughton heading Nathan Doyle's cross against the underside of his own bar. Goalkeeper Paddy Kenny was beaten all ends up but when the ball dropped it clearly did not cross the line. United manager Kevin Blackwell may find his fury compounded with a fine after branding the decision "a disgrace". He was equally adamant referee Peter Walton should have given United a penalty when Zayatte brought down Billy Sharp.
"We've seen the replay – the whole stadium saw the replay on the big screen – and it is not a goal," Blackwell said. "The official made a decision when he cannot have been 100 per cent sure and that's a disgrace. I'm not in favour of stopping the game to look at video replays but that was so obvious. The referee has had a chance to correct the decision even before the game has kicked off again.
"People lose their jobs over decisions like that. If I had been hanging on I could have been sacked over that result. I'm not saying referees should be demoted if they have a bad game but if one of my players had a game like that he would be dropped."
United equalised seven minutes after the contentious goal, Sharp turning the ball home after Greg Halford's cross was headed back across goal by Lee Hendrie. But they were fuming again before half-time as Zayatte appeared to trip Sharp. Referee Peter Walton dismissed their penalty claims and instead booked Sharp for diving.
There was no argument over Hull's second goal, five minutes into the second half, when they failed to check Halmosi's run as Nick Barmby crossed from wide on the right. "We've maybe had a bit of luck and my heart was in my mouth when Sharp went down," Hull manager Phil Brown said, having seen his side progress despite making seven changes with an eye on Sunday's crucial Premier League clash with Blackburn. "But I felt we were the team that deserved to win."
Hull City (4-4-2): Myhill; Doyle, Turner, Zayatte, Ricketts; Mendy, France, Marney, Halmosi; Folan (Manucho, 65), Barmby (Garcia, 73). Substitutes not used: Geovanni, Cousin, Warner (gk), Featherstone, Gardner.
Sheffield United (4-1-4-1): Kenny; Naughton, Morgan, Walker, Naysmith (Sun Jihai, 88); S Quinn; Cotterill, Hendrie (Tahar, 90), Howard, Sharp; Halford. Substitutes not used: Bennett (gk), K Quinn, Starosta.
Referee: P Walton (Northants).