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Match Reports

Blades 2-1 Middlesbrough - report

10 April 2018

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Lee Evans was certainly the star of the Bramall Lane night, as United deservedly beat play-off rivals Middlesbrough at Bramall Lane on Tuesday.

The Welsh international entered two contenders for the goal of the season award on a night as United firmly propelled themselves back into the race for a top six finish against a Boro side who had skipper Grant Leadbitter dismissed midway through the first-half.

For the clash against Boro, boss Wilder selected an unchanged starting XI despite the loss at Barnsley, with the only change coming amongst the substitutes with Donaldson taking the place of Wilson.

Under the lights, the Blades went ahead inside two minutes in spectacular style. A cross from the left wasn't cleared properly and EVANS volleyed home with the side of his foot, a genuine goal of the season contender. United pushed again moments later, but this time from Stevens pull back, Lundstram fired high and wide.

On 13 minutes, Boro had their first shot at goal, with Bamford stinging the palms of Moore, from Howson's pass. But within three minutes, the Blades should have been two goals to the good, having kept possession for a good period of time, Evans found Clarke in space in the penalty area but his tame effort was kicked away by Randolph.

Middlesbrough skipper Leadbitter became the first to be carded for a cynical foul on Brooks following a missed placed header and within six minutes he had received his marching orders after lunging in on Fleck. But neither of Leadbitter's booking were as bad as Ayala's challenge on Brooks that went unpunished.

Bond's card was out again in the 35th minute, this time Fleck seeing yellow for a tug on Traore, but five minutes later, the Lane erupted again, as that man EVANS repeated his earlier heroics, this time volleying home from a Brooks cross following a short corner on the right.

At the break, the visitors made a triple substitution, with Assombalonga, Clayton and De Silva all entering the fray and it reaped instant reward as AYALA pulled one back, slotting home from Gibson's flick-on following Downing's free-kick.

The visitors buoyed by the goal pressed forward again, with Howson firing over from distance having robbed Evans on halfway. Twenty elapsed with little in the way of action, before De Silva was booked for remonstrating with referee Bond. With 18 minutes remaining, Duffy was introduced, replacing Wright, prompting a change of formation.

Tensions were rising amongst the home support, and Howson almost curled home from the right after a rare slip from Basham. With the clocking ticking down, Brooks was withdrawn, with Donaldson taking his place. Eventually, after persistent fouling, Friend was booked. To the dismay of the Kop, Evans skied high and wide from 12 yards out when presented with a chance for his hat-trick.

Four minutes of added time were signalled and Evans continued to chase his treble. In response, Boro kept launching the ball in the box from Shotton's long throws, but the Blades held firm for a much needed and thoroughly deserved victory.

Blades: Moore, Baldock, Stevens, Fleck, O'Connell, Basham, Lundstram, Clarke, Wright (Duffy 72), L Evans, Brooks (Donaldson 85).
Unused: Sharp, Lafferty, Holmes, Eastwood.

Boro: Randolph, Friend, Ayala, Shotton, Gibson, Leadbitter, Bamford (Assombalonga 45), Howson, Downing, Besic (Clayton 45), Traore (De Silva 45).
Unused: Dimi, Cranie, Fry, Harrison.

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