ON THIS DAY: Blades put six past West Brom

Paul Devlin celebrates his goal with team-mate Shaun Derry
Paul Devlin celebrates his goal with team-mate Shaun Derry
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The 1999/2000 season was less than thrilling on the field for Sheffield United and their fans.

The Blades were poor in the first few months of the season and a run of eight games without a win while taking just three points was enough to see Adrian Heath removed as manager in late November.

Replacing him was Neil Warnock, one of United’s most famous fans who had just embarked on a rollercoaster seven and a half years at Bramall Lane.

He inspired the team to a unbeaten run which carried them through to early January and an emphatic FA Cup defeat by Newcastle.

When West Brom arrived at Bramall Lane on February 19, the Blades were one win away from their best home run for 10 years after five consecutive victories.

The match was just one minute 45 seconds old when United made the best possible start, Wayne Quinn swinging in a corner from the right which found the head of Marcus Bent, the striker scoring his 11th goal of the season.

Utd hat-trick man Marcus Bent celebrates his last goal with team-mate Shaun Murphy and Alex Noteman

Utd hat-trick man Marcus Bent celebrates his last goal with team-mate Shaun Murphy and Alex Noteman

United almost doubled the lead after four minutes when Alex Notman forced Chris Adamson into a save.

The match meandered a little after that until it flared into life after half an hour when the Baggies striker Lee Hughes elbowed Blades defender Rob Kozluk in the face off the ball.

Referee George Cain and his linesmen had missed the incident but still booked Hughes and he made no mistake a minute later when Richard Sneekes reacted to a Michael Brown challenge with a swing of the arm and a straight red card.

Bent duly doubled the lead just before half-time when he was picked out by Brown to send a stooping header into the net.

Marcus Bent heads home his second past keeper Chris Adamson

Marcus Bent heads home his second past keeper Chris Adamson

Two goals to the good at half time would appear to give most managers satisfaction with their team but not Warnock who apparently laid into the Blades and the front two especially.

It had the desired effect. Bent took just six more minutes to complete his hat-trick with a simple tap-in after Adamson failed to hang on to a Shaun Derry header.

It was the start of a nightmare second half for the keeper.

Just four minutes later he failed to hold on to a Bent header and this time Paul Devlin smashed home the rebound. United were now relentless and it was five 10 minutes later.

Marcus Bent smashes home his third goal and his hat-trick

Marcus Bent smashes home his third goal and his hat-trick

Bobby Ford tried his luck and again the goalkeeper could not keep hold of the ball givng Notman the simplest of tap-ins.

Bent almost got his fourth when he controlled the ball inside the area before Derry nearly made it six when he saw his header from Quinn’s free-kick come back off the bar.

Substitute Laurent D’Jaffo fired a shot on the turn at Adamson before United did get a six with Brown letting fly with a fierce shot from outside the area which had Adamson grasping at thin air.

When the final whistle went, the vast majority of the 14,519 present were thoroughly happy with United now firmly in mid-table.

Warnock said: “It was a super performance although there were parts of the game that disappointed me.

“We played the first 25 minutes with nine men because we didn’t have anybody up front. When the Hughes incident occured I said to Brian Little ‘thank goodness he’s done that’ because it was what we needed.

Michael Brown smashes home the last from outside the area

Michael Brown smashes home the last from outside the area

“People might say the sending off changed the game but I think we still would have won the game if they had 14 men on the pitch.”

Marcus Bent heads home the first of his three

Marcus Bent heads home the first of his three