Sheffield United 0 Swansea City 3: Butler does it as Swans cruise past blunt Blades

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The Independent Football

A decidedly peaky Neil Warnock was at his curmudgeonly best after watching his side being outfought and out-thought by League One opposition at Bramall Lane on Saturday. When asked whether he was impressed by Swansea's performance, he was cold charity itself.

"No, I wasn't. I think if they keep on playing as they are they've got a chance of the play-offs, but they're not good enough for automatic promotion. This had more to do with my team."

Every dog is said to have its day and on Saturday in Sheffield it was the turn of Thomas Butler, yet another member of the Manchester United youth academy who never made the grade at Old Trafford.

"He's played second fiddle for a lot of the season to Andy Robinson and today he had a chance to show what he could do," his manager, Kenny Jackett, said.

"Their full-backs were pushing forward and that made us much more dangerous on the break," Butler said. "They weren't expecting us to be as good as we were."

Butler spent time with Sunderland before being loaned to Darlington. Then he moved to Hartlepool, before joining Swansea last year. "Throughout my career I've been in and out of teams," he said, "but I've had injuries. I don't think I've played a full season."

Kristian O'Leary's promptings from midfield always looked promising. When he found Adebayo Akinfenwa eight minutes after the interval the striker lost the tussle with Leigh Bromby, but the ball ran wide to Butler. With no marker in attendance, his drive left Paul Gerrard stranded.

The 5,000 travelling fans were just switching from a soulful version of "Can't Help Falling in Love" to a rousing rendition of "Cwm Rhondda" when Butler hammered home a ball which David Sommeil had failed to control.

How dull were the Blades. Not even bright enough to perceive Butler's threat after two warnings and when he charged in from the touchline Derek Geary could only scythe him down with a mindless tackle which guaranteed a penalty. It would have made the perfect afternoon for the Irishman if he could have converted for his hat-trick, but Leon Britton was the man for this occasion.

To give him credit, Warnock laid little emphasis on his team's weakness as a factor in the defeat. But the Swans, too, were far from a full complement. Their goal-machine, Lee Trundle, was suspended and, as Jackett observed, Robinson and Marcus Painter were also absentees.

"I thought it was a physically strong side, full of commitment with the right balance of experienced players throughout the side," the manager said. But there was no danger of Jackett over-celebrating. "As the dressing room reminded me, the big game is on Tuesday night - we've got Port Talbot away in the Welsh Cup."

For the Blades, help is at hand in the shape of Matthew Kilgallon, who will mark his 22nd birthday today by signing for a fee which could rise to £2m. The Leeds defender, who can play centre-back or full-back, is expected to go straight into the side as a replacement for the suspended captain, Chris Morgan.

Goals: Butler (53) 0-1; (59) 0-2; Britton (pen, 67) 0-3.

Sheffield United: Gerrard, Geary, Bromby, Sommeil, Armstrong, Kazim-Richards, Montgomery, A Quinn, Hurst (Law, 62), Webber (Tonge, 86), Nade (S Quinn, 62). Substitutes not used: Annerson (gk), Lucketti.

Swansea City: Gueret, Amankwaah (Iriekpen, 43), Austin, Lawrence, Williams, Britton, O'Leary, Tate, Butler, Akinfenwa, Fallon. Substitutes not used: Oakes (gk), Watt, Jones, Allen.

Referee: A D'Urso (Essex).

Booked: Sheffield United Geary. Swansea City Williams.

Man of the match: Butler.

Attendance: 15,896.