It was billed for months as the game that would finally decide which of these Yorkshire rivals would be automatically promoted to the Premiership. When last night's derby finally arrived there was nothing left for either side to play for - but that did stop not Neil Warnock, the Sheffield United manager, from rather ruining his own promotion party by being sent to the stands by the referee, Graham Poll, after an argument with his former assistant and opposite number Kevin Blackwell. Shaking off the grasp of a policeman, he eventually stormed down the tunnel and only re-emerged for a lap of honour with his team to celebrate the sixth promotion of his career.
Warnock, 57, who has previously complained about inexperienced referees taking charge of important Championship matches this season, was incensed by a Gary Kelly challenge that sparked more animosity between him and Blackwell. The two have barely exchanged a civil word since the latter left Sheffield to take up a coaching position at Leeds.
"I really didn't think what I said warranted me being sent off," Warnock said. "I just made a comment about one of the Leeds players to Kevin but the fourth official, Mr Robinson, seems to have a vendetta against me. I don't blame the referee at all. It's disappointing because it overshadows a fantastic atmosphere and a really exciting evening."
Sheffield United had taken the lead early on when David Unsworth's corner flicked off Bakke's head at the near post, wrong-footing Neil Sullivan.
The Leeds equaliser arrived after Healy was allowed to move unchallenged to the edge of the area, from where he curled a left-foot shot into the far corner.
Both sides had strong penalty appeals declined by Poll, who will presumably be delighted to get back to the Premiership after managing to incur the wrath of both sets of supporters.
"There was some passion in it, that's for sure," Blackwell said. "There was no way we were going to let Sheffield make a showboat game out of it and we haven't lost in four games against the top two now this season."
Sheffield United (4-3-3): Kenny; Geary, Lucketti, Short, Unsworth; Montgomery (Armstrong, 51), Jagielka, Tonge; Kabba (Dyer, 82), Akinbiyi, Webber (Ifill, 79). Substitutes not used: Morgan, Shipperley.
Leeds United (4-4-2): Sullivan; Kelly, Butler, Kilgallon, Crainey; Douglas, Bakke (Pugh, 79), Derry, Miller; Hulse, Healy (Moore, 79). Substitutes not used: Bennett (gk), Beckford, Graham.
Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).Reuse content