Sheffield United 3 Brighton 1: Goals camouflage Warnock worries

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Second-half goals from Phil Jagielka, Paul Ifill and Michael Tonge helped Sheffield United to clinch victory over a dogged Brighton & Hove Albion at Bramall Lane. Questions, ones that Warnock sidestepped in the media briefing, remain over what United's ageing squad will offer the Premiership next season, should they, of course, seal promotion.

With his side making hard work of breaking down their opponents, the former Millwall winger Ifill was waging his own personal battle to impress Sheffield United supporters still waiting for him to justify the £800,000 transfer fee that brought him to South Yorkshire in the summer.

"I am unpredictable and sometimes the fans can get on my back because I mis-place a pass or try something that doesn't come off," he said after netting against his home-town club.

"I am used to it. After all, I was at Millwall for seven years. We were top of the league one season and we were booed off the pitch at half-time because it was 0-0. I am used to it; maybe some of the others won't be."

Ifill added: "It was a hard afternoon but we worked harder in the second half and I think that we overpowered them."

Brighton kept the team that secured victory over Leeds United last week, and with it, succeeded in stifling Sheffield United's forward play. The first half offered little in the way of chances or, much to the dismay of a capacity crowd, entertainment.

The breakthrough for Sheffield United came on 53 minutes. Armstrong delivered a left-footed cross for Phil Jagielka, the captain firing his volley well past Michael Kuipers in the Brighton goal.

The home side went further ahead on 64 minutes through Ifill, the winger dispossessing the full-back Joel Lynch before storming into the penalty area and lobbing Kuipers. Michael Tonge, Sheffield United's best performer, crowned an industrious display by securing his side's third on 75 minutes.

Brighton pulled back a consolation goal through substitute Colin Kazim-Richards, on 83 minutes but a mammoth effort is needed to drag themselves away from danger.

The Sheffield United manager was quite rightly pleased with his side's finishing, which at least bodes well if they do progress to the top flight. "They were three quality goals," said Warnock, who had told his players not to worry about the crowd. "They've all been working hard with their finishing."

Goals: Jagielka (53) 1-0; Ifill (64) 2-0; Tonge (75) 3-0; Kazim-Richards (83) 3-1.

Sheffield United (4-4-2): Kenny; Bromby, Short, Unsworth (Quinn, 82), Geary; Tonge, Armstrong, Ifill, Jagielka; Shipperley (Deane, 81), Kabba (Flitcroft, 88). Substitutes not used: Morgan, Montgomery.

Brighton & Hove Albion (4-4-2) Kuipers; Butters, El-Abd, McShane, Lynch (Gatting, 68); Frutos, Hammond, Carpenter, Reid (Kazim-Richards, 59); Frutos (Mayo, 77), Hart. Substitutes not used: Robinson, Henderson (gk).

Referee: E Ilderton (Tyne and Wear).

Booked: Sheffield United Geary; Brighton Frutos.

Man of the match: Tonge.

Attendance: 27,514.