Second-placed Sheffield United kept up their pursuit of Championship leaders Burnley with victory over Stoke City at Bramall Lane.
The Blades maintained their five-point gap with a victory established in a dominant first half, as Iliman Ndiaye finished cutely past Jack Bonham after Max Lowe made inroads down the left to establish an early lead.
Jayden Bogle doubled the lead when his shot deflected beyond Bonham via a touch from former Blades favorite Phil Jagielka, to leave the home side looking comfortable.
Nick Powell pulled a goal back just before half-time when his cross looking for Jacob Brown nestled in the far corner, catching the hosts off guard.
Sander Berge ought to have given Paul Heckingbottom’s side a two-goal cushion in a scrappy second half, but he blazed over after good work from substitute Daniel Jebbison, who replaced the injured Ndiaye.
Stoke remained a threat too, with Wes Foderingham’s fine save denying Brown after he got on the end of a Tyrese Campbell cross.
However, the Blades got the third goal the near-30,000 crowd craved when Bogle crashed home a Tommy Doyle cross in the final minute.
Heckingbottom’s side have found their form over the winter, winning six of their past seven league games with a cup success over Millwall sandwiched between.
It has pushed them into the top two, with an 11-point gap on third-placed Watford, whose late winner along with that of Burnley’s, meant the South Yorkshire club were unable to take advantage.
Stoke by contrast have now won just one of their past seven in the Championship, and are just four points above 22nd-placed Huddersfield.
Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom told BBC Radio Sheffield:
“It had a bit of everything in terms of we started, you could see straight away what Stoke tried to do to stop us. We prepared for that and watching the first goal back we’re delighted because it’s straight off the training ground, so every player can take a lot of credit.
“The second with Jayden, pressing high and regaining, it’s taken a deflection off Phil Jagielka where he’s tried to make the block – we’re good value and looking strong but their goal is our fault. We recover from their counter and we’re really slow and we paid the price.
“We stopped them creating any chances – there was the Jacob Brown header and that was it, which is good from our part. We didn’t make the most of our opening in the second half because we did have them, but then Jayden at the end puts the game to bed.”
Stoke City boss Alex Neil told BBC Radio Stoke:
“I thought first half we wanted to try to play and open the pitch out, and to be honest we did that to Sheffield United’s benefit rather than ours.
“We were passive in the first half. We didn’t apply pressure well enough and didn’t look after the ball well enough, and if you combine all those facets of the game you’re going to make it a problem.
“We got a lifeline before half-time by getting a goal, changed it at half-time by not risking it at the back and getting the ball forward, on the front-foot, up against them and aggressive.
“It made us better. I thought we looked more likely to score the next goal, and the last goal is harsh on us.”
- 12EganBooked at 63mins
- 20BogleBooked at 61mins
- 28McAteeSubstituted forDoyleat 58′minutes
- 29NdiayeSubstituted forJebbisonat 71′minutes
- 10sharpSubstituted forosbornat 77′minutes
- 5SouttarBooked at 90mins
- 16WilmotSubstituted forClarkeat 79′minutes
- 15ThompsonSubstituted forGayleat 85′minutes
- 28LaurentBooked at 56mins
- 25PowellSubstituted forCampbellat 78′minutes
- Michael Salisbury
Match ends, Sheffield United 3, Stoke City 1.
Second half ends, Sheffield United 3, Stoke City 1.
Harry Souttar (Stoke City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Harry Souttar (Stoke City).
Daniel Jebbison (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Goal! Sheffield United 3, Stoke City 1. Jayden Bogle (Sheffield United) left footed shot from the center of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Tommy Doyle.
Foul by Harry Clarke (Stoke City).
Jack Robinson (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Stoke City. Dwight Gayle replaces Jordan Thompson.
Corner, Stoke City. Courtesy of Jayden Bogle.
Offside, Sheffield United. Sander Berge tries a through ball, but Ben Osborn is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Jacob Brown (Stoke City) header from the center of the box is saved in the center of the goal. Assisted by Tyrese Campbell with a cross.
Josh Laurent (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Oliver Norwood (Sheffield United).
Corner, Stoke City. Granted by John Egan.
Substitution, Stoke City. Harry Clarke replaces Ben Wilmot.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Substitution, Stoke City. Tyrese Campbell replaces Nick Powell because of an injury.
Substitution, Sheffield United. Ben Osborn replaces Billy Sharp.
Delay in match due to an injury Nick Powell (Stoke City).