Sheffield United 3 Hull City 2: Unsworth's 'most important goal' brings dream closer

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It came in the third minute of added time at Bramall Lane and propels Sheffield United a significant step closer to ending a 12-year stretch outside the Premiership. The satisfaction for 32-year-old Unsworth, should it be achieved, will be in justifying his voluntary exile.

The former England international defender left Portsmouth last August and chose Bramall Lane even in the knowledge that dropping into the Championship could have been a career own goal. "I wouldn't say it was a gamble because the status of the club and the quality of the players made it likely they would be there or thereabouts in the promotion race," he said. "But to make that step down in the hope of coming straight back up was a calculated risk so if we can take it all the way now I will be pleased with myself for getting it right."

Unsworth's strike as Hull tried to defend a corner inside a crowded penalty area brought relief to the manager Neil Warnock and his players, who have seen their grip on the second automatic place loosened and feared another wobble here after surrendering a two-goal lead. "The games we have left are not easy and I can't stress enough how vital it was that we won this one," Unsworth said. "It's the most important goal of my career.We just want to get the job done as soon as possible now."

Two wins from their final four fixtures will be enough, regardless of what others do, although Cardiff (away), Leeds (home), Luton (away) and Crystal Palace (home) offer no obvious banker.

However, the Hull manager Peter Taylor believes that they will succeed, even though he thought his own side unlucky to lose. Trailing to goals by Neil Shipperley late in the first half and Paul Ifill early in the second, Taylor saw a double substitution pay off handsomely when Stuart Elliott and Darryl Duffy brought the scores level. Hull should have had a penalty when the United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny hauled down Stuart Green.

"It was a stonewall penalty," Taylor said. "But to come here and play as we did says a lot for how we have progressed. A side like Sheffield United have the forwards to punish you. They will definitely be in the Premiership next season."

Goals: Shipperley (36) 1-0; Ifill (52) 2-0; Elliott (65) 2-1; Duffy (70) 2-2; Unsworth (90) 3-2.

Sheffield United (4-4-2): Kenny; Kozluk, Short, Morgan, Unsworth; Ifill (Kabba, 87), Tonge, Jagielka, Armstrong; Shipperley, Webber. Substitutes not used: Akinbiyi, Montgomery, Gillespie, Lucketti.

Hull City (4-4-2): Myhill; Thelwell, Cort, Delaney, Dawson; Paynter (Elliott, 56), Andrews, Green, Ellison; Parkin, Fagan (Duffy, 56). Substitutes not used: Duke (gk), France, Wiseman.

Referee: P Crossley (Kent).

Booked: Hull City Myhill.

Man of the match: Unsworth.

Attendance: 26,324.