Tranmere 0-1 Blades - report
United's promotion push received a Good Friday tonic, with a win at rivals Tranmere Rovers.
An own goal from Ash Taylor, who deflected a Tony McMahon shot past his own goalkeeper, was the difference just before half-time.
The Blades were tremendously well-organised and disciplined, particularly in the second half, to put a dent in Tranmere's own promotion aspirations.
Forte was given the job of replacing Murphy, who failed to recover from hamstring and back problems, it was manager Wilson's only change from the 4-0 reversal at Stevenage 13 days earlier. The formation was going to be interesting and it quickly became clear that Forte was in attack with Kitson, with Robson and Flynn supporting from wide areas.
On a bobbly and unpredictable playing surface, Tranmere won three corners in the opening five minutes but were unable to put pressure on Long, whilst United's first half-chance was a snap-shot from Forte but he was well off target.
The Blades hit back with a number of corners, from one Forte was denied by Taylor's block, whilst United's cleanest chance of the opening half hour also fell to the recalled loan striker. After Collins won a defensive header, Kitson and Forte combined well on the halfway line before the latter's shot was turned around a post by the quick reactions of goalkeeper Fon Williams.
United were enjoying a good spell and another chance fell to Forte on 34 minutes, this time his effort on the turn, after good work by McDonald and Robson, was saved by the diving Fon Williams.
Kitson went close with a flicked header from McMahon's cross and bookings for Flynn and Maguire failed to stem United's momentum, the visitors grabbing the lead on 42 minutes. A highly speculative long-range effort from McMahon, fully 30 yards out, looked comfortable for Fon Williams but took a significant deflection off TAYLOR and spun into the opposite corner of the net.
The lead was worthy of United's first half endeavours and, kicking towards the sold out away end in the second period, the visitors were quickly on the defensive, repelling two corners, whilst McGinty's overhead kick rested on the roof of the net.
On 49 minutes, Doyle headed out a shot from Power, which was hit from a similar position that McMahon let fly for United's goal, as Tranmere came out with renewed vigour.
The Blades defended well, keeping their shape and working hard to limit Tranmere's forays forward. Robson shot into the arms of Fon Williams in a rare attack but the home side hit back with substitute McGurk seeing his deflected effort smothered by Long.
On 83 minutes the Blades came within inches of making the game safe on a breakaway and although Flynn's shot beat Fon Williams hit struck the crossbar and Forte was ushered away from the rebound by Gibson. It was followed up moments later with Robson storming forward and this time the Tranmere goalkeeper tipped over the bar.
After a spell of Robson and McDonald slowing down the clock in front of the Blades fans, Poleon replaced Forte late on. United were in defensive mode for three minutes of injury time and goalkeeper Fon Williams was up for a very late corner which the visitors kept out to register three vital points.
Tranmere: Fon Williams, Holmes, Taylor, Palmer, Bakayogo, Power, Gibson, Bell-Baggie (McGurk 65), Sidibe, Akpa Akpro, McGinty.
Unused: Goodison, Harrison, Stockton, Kay, O'Hallorgan, Mooney.
Blades: Long, Maguire, Hill, Flynn, Doyle, McDonald, Kitson, Collins, Forte (Poleon 89), Robson, McMahon.
Unused: Westlake, Higginbotham, Porter, Ironside, McFadzean, Coyne.