A stoppage-time winner from their veteran defender David Unsworth took Sheffield United a major step closer to the Premiership after they had threatened to give themselves more sleepless nights by squandering a 2-0 lead.
United's quest to secure the second automatic promotion spot has been hit by the jitters in the last two months, with only two wins from 10 games. Here, goals by Neil Shipperley and Paul Ifill looked set to ease their worries, but Hull stormed back.
However, the 33-year-old Unsworth stole victory in the third added minute, sweeping home from close range to leave the Blades needing to win only two of their remaining four games to be certain of going up.
Hull had been enjoying a revival, boasting a record of three wins in their past four games. Early attempts by Keith Andrews, Jon Parkin and Kevin Ellison, the latter bringing a fine, one-handed save from Paddy Kenny to repel a 30-yard drive, raised a palpable sense of unease in the home crowd.
United were far from convincing as a potential Premiership side. Yet they responded heartily and their opening goal had been flagged up by several near-misses. First a shot by Phil Jagielka almost squeezed between the legs of the Hull goalkeeper, Boaz Myhill, then Rob Kozluk headed Unsworth's cross wide and Danny Webber fizzed a vicious strike inches wide.
Shipperley scored after 36 minutes, showing a veteran striker's sense of positioning to turn in Michael Tonge's low cross from close range. Eight minutes into the second half, United had a second goal. Webber, wide on the left, crossed to the near post and Ifill steered a neat header beyond Myhill's reach.
The Hull manager, Peter Taylor, then spoiled the party mood with a double substitution as Stuart Elliott and Darryl Duffy combined to level the scores within 14 minutes of being sent on. Elliott struck first when Alton Thelwell's cross eluded a forest of legs to find him unmarked at the far post. Hull should have had a penalty when Kenny, having lost the ball, dragged down Stuart Green, but five minutes after Elliott's goal, Duffy stabbed in Green's cut-back to level the scores.
Webber and substitute Steve Kabba missed golden chances to grab a late winner only for Unsworth to force the ball over the line and reignite the party.Reuse content