Sheffield United clinched seventh place in League One with a 2-1 home win over Coventry City - fighting back from a goal down at the interval.
Given their wretched start to the season this was a fine achievement.
Nevertheless manager Nigel Clough, who has overseen their climb out of the relegation zone and into the upper eschelons of the table during his first 40 matches at the helm, entered today’s game urging United’s players to sign-off in style.
And both sets of players, after Brayford and Coady in particular had received wonderful ovations from the home crowd, showed no indictions of taking things easy.
Doyle, the former City midfielder, flew into a challenge on Delfouneso with barely two minutes gone while, at the other end, Murphy and Baxter combined to test the visitors’ defensive resolve.
Baxter was responsible for setting in motion the chain of events which threatened to unlock City’s rearguard soon after. His tackle on Fleck saw the ball bounce loose to Coady who tried, twice, to release Murphy.
In the end Brayford, charging forward on the overlap, whipped a looping cross beyond Joe Murphy but also, unfortunately, Baxter as well.
City arrived in 17th place but, having been docked 10 points at the start of the campaign, are clearly a much better team than their rankings suggests.
Marshall and Wilson, targeted by United earlier this term, appeared dangerous on the counter attack but, in the 12th minute, Coady rose to prominence again with a long-range shot which was saved.
In the 14th minute, Freeman produced an excellent tackle to deny Wilson when a speculative ball sailed towards Howard’s six yard box.
City’s Thomas became the first player to be cautioned for a foul on Scougall which left the Scottish midfielder requiring lengthy treatment. But Scougall proved his durability by staying on the pitch.
Scougall’s compatriot Flynn, who yesterday signed a two-year contract at Bramall Lane, was beginning to get the better of Christie along City’s right flank.
Brayford found him hugging the touchline in the 28th minute before continuing his run into the area before being crowded out.
Clough has made no secret of the fact he wants his players to contribute at both ends of the field.
Which, soon after Brayford’s surge forward, is exactly what Murphy did by poking out a leg to stop Wilson from seizing possession on the edge of the D.
But, six minutes before half-time, it was City who took the lead. Fleck was fouled in midfield but referee Bond called an advantage which allowed the former Rangers midfielder to release DELFOUNESO, who slid the ball home beneath the onrushing Howard.
Scougall was wisely withdrawn during the interval with Porter taking his place.
City, who had Fleck cautioned near the end of the first-half, were under pressure with Brayford barging through before Joe Murphy smothered.
Brayford, demonstrating why he has made such an impact at Bramall Lane rose to prominence again soon after when he combined with Coady and Porter only for the latter to be deemed guilty of fouling Clarke as the move unfolded.
With the pace of Wilson and Delfouneso in attack, City, quite correctly, were happy to play direct football.
United, by contrast, adopted a more considered approach which, when Flynn beat Willis in the 62nd minute, nearly reaped its reward.
Porter bravely flung himself at the winger’s near post cross but could not divert it home. No matter as on the next drive forward, in the 63rd minute, United were level.
FLYNN fooled Fleck by allowing the ball to run across his body, exchanged passes with Coady, before cutting inside and creating enough space in a crowded penalty area to convert a superbly crafted goal.
Clough made his second substitution of the afternoon with Davies replacing Baxter just before Christie was cautioned for a foul on Porter.
DAVIES had barely broken sweat before he edged United into a deserved 74th minute lead.
Brayford pressed down their right flank towards the Kop but it was Coady’s persistence - he barged through one tackle and across the area - which created the chance for the substitute to score.