McCarthy calmed by diminutive Elliott's big input

Sunderland 1 Sheffield United 0
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The Independent Online

Back in the days when Mick McCarthy started his career as a teenage centre-half with Barnsley, he played in the same side as a veteran winger called Neil Warnock. By the time Saturday's feisty Championship encounter at the Stadium of Light spilled into four minutes of stoppage time, it seemed that the Sunderland manager had become his old team-mate.

Back in the days when Mick McCarthy started his career as a teenage centre-half with Barnsley, he played in the same side as a veteran winger called Neil Warnock. By the time Saturday's feisty Championship encounter at the Stadium of Light spilled into four minutes of stoppage time, it seemed that the Sunderland manager had become his old team-mate.

McCarthy slammed his water bottle into the pitch-side hoardings and came close to blowing a gasket as he raged at the fourth official, jabbing manically at his wristwatch. However, when the final whistle came, there was an instant transformation on his whole bearing. The Sunderland manager was still flushed with relief when he came to the press room. "We had to scrap for that," he said, "but in the end it's irrelevant, because we got the three points."

Warnock reckons he would have steered Sheffield United to automatic promotion last season had the Blades been able to afford Darren Huckerby. On Saturday, he paid the price for having chosen not to sign Stephen Elliott from Manchester City at the end of last season on the grounds that the young Dubliner was too small.

Elliott, who joined Sunderland for £125,000, teed up the 44th-minute volley with which Marcus Stewart won the game - albeit after a second-half turnaround in which Thomas Myhre was obliged to perform at the top of his form in an increasingly besieged home goal.

Goal: Stewart (44) 1-0.

Sunderland (4-4-2): Myhre; Wright, N Collins, D Collins, McCartney; Whitehead, Robinson, Whitley (Thornton, 68), Arca; Stewart (Bridges, 86), Elliott (Brown, 68). Substitutes not used: Alnwick (gk), Lynch.

Sheffield United (4-3-2-1): Kenny; Geary, Morgan, Cullip (Shaw, 78), Harley; Bromby, Liddell (Cadamarteri, h-t), Quinn (Forte, 71); Jagielka, Tonge; Gray. Substitutes not used: Montgomery, Thirlwell.

Referee: P Butler (Northamptonshire).

Booked: Sunderland Whitley, Arca; Sheffield United Geary, Quinn, Harley, Morgan.

Man of the match: Stewart.

Attendance: 27,337.

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