Coventry City 2 Sheffield Utd 0: Warnock worries pile up as Blades suffer mettle fatigue

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Coventry's manager Micky Adams should have been a happy man yesterday, but the lifelong Sheffield United fan was worrying that he had put another dent in his beloved team's chances of automatic promotion.

"I'm devastated by the result," he said, only half in jest. "Please God, I hope they get automatic promotion. They will always have a blip but they've got enough quality and a good manager who will see them through."

If there was any question that Sheffield United were suffering late-season jitters, it was answered yesterday as goals from Gary McSheffrey and Dele Adebola meant the Blades have won just once in seven games.

Twice as many strikers (six) as defenders (three) arrived at the Ricoh Arena, showing just how badly key injuries have rocked the boat. With the centre-back Leigh Bromby out with knee-ligament damage, the United manager Neil Warnock was forced to bring in the 37-year-old Craig Short and move Phil Jagielka to left-back in the absence of Alan Quinn and David Unsworth.

The home side took just four minutes to open the scoring when McSheffrey latched on to a misplaced back-header by Chris Morgan to knock home a left-footed volley from 10 yards.

Sheffield United came back strongly, with Danny Webber firing wide, but Coventry almost made it two when McSheffrey just failed to get a foot on Adebola's shot across goal.

McSheffrey and Adebola did combine to make it two on 31 minutes, the Nigerian-born striker putting away a neat right-footed finish from the 23-year-old winger's cross.

United were better in the second period, with Jagielka coming close, and Warnock afterwards made the improbable claim that he has never felt better about his team's promotion push.

"I think half-time was a turning point for our season and I've never felt more positive," he said. "We've been feeling sorry for ourselves with all the press and TV writing us off and I told them at half-time that life's too short - we've got a great opportunity and I'll let other people be doom and gloom merchants.

"It doesn't matter who you've got playing or what system you have, if you concede goals like we conceded in the first five minutes, you're going to be in trouble. Now we've got to put our house in order and we'll do that."