Free report and highlights from the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield United and Watford at Bramall Lane, when Ryan Porteous’ own goal sealed victory for the Blades on Saturday afternoon.

18:49 UK Saturday 25 February 2023

Sheffield United edged past Championship promotion rivals Watford and boosted their hopes of automatic promotion with a narrow 1–0 win.

A second-half Ryan Porteous own goal secured maximum points for the hosts at Bramall Lane.

After a quiet opening 10 minutes, Keinan Davis had the first big chance of the game for the visitors. The Watford man went on target but was unable to deflect and goalkeeper Wes Foderingham collected the ball.

A foul on Joao Pedro by Anel Ahmedhodzic outside the area led to the first yellow card of the match after 18 minutes. Davis nearly converted Watford’s resulting free-kick, but his header went wide.

Midway through the first half, Iliman Ndiaye found himself in the Watford box after some good footwork, but fired over the crossbar.

Max Lowe received United’s second yellow card after bringing down Ismaila Sarr on the edge of the box, while Imran Louza’s cross created a goal-line scramble but the Hornets were unable to force the ball.

The Blades had the last chance of an uneventful half in which they were second best by the vast majority. Jack Robinson shot at Daniel Bachmann’s goal, but his effort went wide for a goal kick.

Five minutes into the second half, Watford’s Porteous were booked after bringing down Oli McBurnie before Bachmann saved Oliver Norwood’s resulting free-kick.

Sarr nearly opened the scoring for Watford on 55 minutes. His shot from inside the United box was magnificently covered by Ahmedhodzic.

Ahmedhodzic nearly found the net himself immediately afterwards with Sheffield United’s best chance of the game to that point. His effort from 18 yards went just over the crossbar.

The Blades were disappointed when they had an opening goal disallowed after 63 minutes when Jayden Bogle headed in from close range, but the midfielder was caught offside.

Substitutes Ben Osborn and Tommy Doyle got off to a lively start after Paul Heckingbottom brought them in for Lowe and John Fleck and Bachmann was forced to make two successive great saves to keep the hosts out.

After 73 minutes, United finally found the net for what turned out to be the winner. Norwood’s corner found McBurnie at the far post, whose header back on target saw an unlucky Porteous turn the ball into his own net.

The Blades had to dig deep to keep Watford out and preserve their lead as the match wore on. Despite going into the box on several occasions, Slaven Bilic’s side were unable to test Foderingham late on.

Sheffield United held on to take three vital points in the promotion race by strengthening their second-place position.

The administrators

Paul Heckingbottom of Sheffield United:

“The gap will not stay the same until the end of the season. We need to take care of ourselves until the end of the season. It is important that we have players back to earn enough points for promotion. It will be difficult to make selections. The dressing room is good. I feel that players are always impressed with the staff they know the standards we expect, know what we try and be every day.

“The norm in this league is to win by one goal. So, I thought we were comfortable, I thought we were good. Today we showed a lot of composure and discipline without the ball. We know how we want to play, we know how we went to look. The mentality is so important as tactics at the end of the day.”

Watford’s Slaven Bilic:

“We knew we would have to be complete here to get a result. Job one was dealing with their physique. We knew how strong they were and we coped well. We had to be committed with determination and, to be fair. – we did very well. We frustrated them, we made them have to run, we were changing sides. But we do not penetrate. We don’t believe enough.

“Before this game we didn’t think about the top two positions, we want to be in the top six. Realistically, we want to make it to the play-offs. It’s very tight. Our Championship is very well known for that kind of thing, you know. From somehow a team behind the top two suddenly win eight in a row. But Burnley and Sheffield United are in a comfortable position, let’s be honest.”

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