Ben Davies scored from the penalty spot in the 90th minute to give Sheffield United a slender victory over South Yorkshire rivals Rotherham at Bramall Lane
In a game that failed to live up to expectations and with very little incident, the Blades were awarded a penalty when Craig Morgan fouled Harry Maguire and loanee Davies stepped up convert and end the Millers’ 16-game unbeaten run.
With a trip to Wembley for the FA Cup semi-final against Hull City on the horizon, United boss Nigel Clough fielded a youthful side.
Rookie goalkeeper George Long, who lost the number one jersey to Mark Howard earlier in the season, made his first start since the start of February.
A number of players on the fringes of the squad were given rare starts, Harry Maguire captains the side while there is a debut for 18-year old Republic of Ireland under 19 international Connor Dimaio.
Rotherham made two changes with Lee Frecklington as expected, missing out through injury and replaced by Robert Milsom, while hat-trick hero Tom Hitchcock, who came off the bench to hit a treble against Gillingham on Saturday earned a start in place of Nicky Adams.
Milsom was booked after five minutes by Premier League ref Mike Dean for bringing down Kieron Freeman as the Blades attacked the end where the 5,000 Millers fans were seated.
Blades, playing a three-man central defence of Terry Kennedy, Harry Maguire and Matt Hill with Kieron Freeman and Bob Harris as the wing backs, had dictated the pace and rhythm of the game but neither side created any real threat in the opnening 20 minutes.
Rotherham then fashioned a moment of danger when James Tavernier strode forward and his fierce 25 yarder brought a flying save from George Long.
On 33 minutes Rotherham threatened again and Tavernier’s pass found Hitchcock ten yards out but Long came off his line to block the shot.
In the next minute Tavernier beat Harris and Revell was at the far post but headed tamely straight at Long as Rotherham finally got into the match.
Bob Harris, once on loan at Rotherham, was booked for bringing down Hitchcock.
It was a fairly low key first half with very few opportunities for either side.
The Blades settled first and dictated the opening stages and their changed formation to 3-5-2 saw them in charge and Rotherham unable to impose themselves.
In fact, Rotherham arrived as the Football League’s top scorers but they failed to live up to their reputation and took some time to show their capabilities.
They did have the better of the goal attempts however with Long denying Hitchcock and then producing a fine save when Tavernier thundered in an angled shot from outside the area.
The Blades, with several key players rested but a few on the bench probably ready to go on in the second half, would have been the more pleased of the sides at half-time.
The second period was just as scrappy as the first however with chances few and far between - Stephen McGinn and Jose Baxter coming closest but their efforts failed to hit the target.
So it took that spot kick from Davies to settle the match with Rotherham losing for the first time since a New Year’s Day defeat to Coventry and their first away from home since Port Vale took the points on December 29.
SHEFFIELD UNITED: Long, Harris, Maguire, Hill, Baxter, McGinn, Paynter, Davies, Freeman, Kennedy, Dimaio. Subs: Brayford, Coady, Scougall, Murphy, Khan, Willis, Reed.
ROTHERHAM UNITED: Collin, Skarz, Arnason, Revell, Milsom, Pringle, Morgan, Agard, Tavernier, Hitchcock, Smallwood. Subs: Shearer, Brindley, Davis, O’Connor, Thomas, Vuckic, Adams.
REFEREE: Michael Dean (Wirrall)
See The Star on Wednesday for a full report and reaction.