Kabba drives Blades back into play-off contention

Sheffield United 4 - Crewe Alexandra 0
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The Independent Football

Neil Warnock, the Sheffield United manager, reacted to Saturday's defeat at Cardiff City by arranging a meeting with players and staff on Sunday morning to discuss their prospects for the remainder of the season.

Neil Warnock, the Sheffield United manager, reacted to Saturday's defeat at Cardiff City by arranging a meeting with players and staff on Sunday morning to discuss their prospects for the remainder of the season.

Since beating West Ham on New Year's Day, they had won only one League match, but last night they responded by brushing aside Crewe Alexandra, a result that takes them level on points with Reading in the final play-off spot.

United were inspired by the returning Steve Kabba, who was by some distance the outstanding player on view, and the three points were assured by the time Andy Gray converted Sheffield's second just before the interval.

Crewe remain without a win in any competition since the departure of Dean Ashton, their top scorer, to Norwich City.

Gray added a scrappy fourth in the later stages, but the night deservedly belonged to Kabba.

Now fully recovered, he was a lively presence in the early stages, often pulling his markers wide from where he delivered some dangerous crosses.

It took him less than a quarter of an hour to mark his return from injury with a goal. Andy Gray found the forward inside the area and Kabba, facing away from goal, spun round Colin Murdock and curled a low shot beyond Ben Williams in the Crewe goal.

The visitors should have drawn level when the industry of Mark Rivers helped him win possession down the left. Breaking clear of the Sheffield defence his early pass found Michael Higdon unmarked, but the striker's shot was saved easily by Paddy Kenny.

Sheffield doubled their lead just before half-time, when Andy Liddell's cross found Gray unmarked eight yards out and the striker did the rest.

In the second half, Kabba began to enjoy himself, twisting his way past Crewe defenders almost at will. With 25 minutes left, he scored a glorious second.

Flicking the ball to Liddell, Kabba continued his run and volleyed his team-mate's back-heel into the bottom corner. With that, he retired to the substitutes' bench.

Sheffield United (4-4-2): Kenny; Bromby, Harley, Morgan, Cullip (Geary, 71); Jagielka, Thirlwell, Liddell, Quinn; Gray (Beckett, 81), Kabba (Cadamarteri, 68). Substitutes not used: Montgomery, Forte.

Crewe Alexandra (4-4-2): Williams; Murdock, Moss, Tonkin, Foster; Lunt, Sorvel, Vaughan, Roberts (Bell, 77); Higdon (White, 82), Rivers. Substitutes not used: Wills (gk), McCready, Jones.

Referee: D Drysdale (Lincolnshire).

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