Jamie's gratitude for pal's spot of decency

JAMIE Ward thanked Sheffield United teammate Ched Evans after the diminutive forward ended his goal drought in the FA Cup defeat to Aston Villa.

When Ward converted from the penalty spot to reduce United's arrears, it was a sweet moment for the 24-year-old, who used to play for Villa and supported the club as a youngster.

Evans, United's regular penalty-taker, unselfishly allowed Ward to step up from 12 yards and take the spot-kick.

"I didn't really give Ched much of a choice," Ward quipped. "I have to thank him for letting me take it. He knows how much it meant to me and I'm happy he did that."

It has been a barren spell in front of goal for Ward. You have to go back to February 2010 for the last time he netted for United, scoring a double in the club's thrilling 4-3 victory over Plymouth at Bramall Lane. In total, it was 22 matches without a goal for Ward, who can operate in attack or on the flank.

"It was a nice feeling to get my first goal of the season," said Ward, who is believed to have cost United 330,000. "I probably should have got one earlier in the game but it didn't happen."

A spate of injuries have curtailed Ward's opportunities to shine in the 2010/11 campaign. He was also banned for three matches after being sent off late on in the Yorkshire derby defeat at Leeds following a late challenge on Neil Kilkenny.

Ward recently conceded: "My season has not been great up to now. I've had a couple of good games, but I'm not happy with myself with the way it's going."

With his barren run over, Ward is seeking an upturn in fortunes for United, who return to Championship action at Coventry on Saturday. He believes the team can take plenty of positives from the second-half performance against Premier League strugglers Villa.

Ward said: "We showed a lot of bottle in the second-half. I don't think we were expecting to win but we put up a brave fight. I was happy with the way we played and so were the lads."

United season-ticket-holders will be given their first opportunity to meet new boss Micky Adams at a 'Meet the Manager' forum at Bramall Lane on Thursday, January 20. Both Adams and assistant manager Alan Cork will be at the event. Admission is free for the forum, which will take place in the Executive Suite in the VisitMalta Stand. Doors open at 6.30pm and it will run from 7pm until 9pm.

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