Reading 0 Sheffield United 2: Skipper Billy Sharp comes off bench to set up Blades' win at Madjeski
Billy Sharp came off the bench to score his 12th goal of the season and help Sheffield United beat Reading 2-0 at the Madejski Stadium this evening.
Defender Jack O'Connell added the second to make the game safe, as United scored twice in the last ten minutes of an encounter that looked like being one of frustration rather than celebration and moved up to third in the Championship table.
Sharp was named on the bench alongside Mark Duffy as Blades boss Chris Wilder recalled John Lundstram and Conor Washington to the starting line-up. And although United had the ball in the net twice in the first half, both were ruled out for offside, they were far from their sparkling best in the first 45 minutes.
First, John Egan rose highest to head home John Fleck's corner, the assistant referee adjudging Washington to be offside as the ball took a touch off him, and then David McGoldrick confidently flicked home George Baldock's cross from the right - only to be denied by the flag.
It was the former Ipswich striker who otherwise had the best chance of the first half to score, after he was set free by a wonderful pass from former Reading man - and United's skipper for the evening - Ollie Norwood.
McGoldrick tried to lob the ball over the advancing Anssi Jaakkola, but miscued his effort badly and gave the Reading goalkeeper a comfortable save.
Wilder responded to a below-par first-half display by introducing Duffy for the relatively annonymous Lundstram at half-time, and United began the second period in positive fashion. McGoldrick first tested Jaakkola's reflexes with a well-struck effort and, from the resulting corner, Chris Basham saw his header from a tight angle cleared off the line by Chris Gunter.
Sharp rippled the sidenetting with a header after replacing Washington on the hour mark, but made no mistake when he put the Blades ahead at the back stick from Basham's cross after McGoldrick had missed his attempted header completely.
And minutes later the points were well and truly safe, O'Connell rising highest to head home Fleck's corner and send 1,066 travelling Blades home happy.
Reading: Jaakkola, Gunter, Yiadom, Bacuna, McCleary (Aluko 86), Sims (Barrow 64), Ilori, Blackett, McNulty (S Baldock 64), Rinomhota, Loader. Not used: Mannone, Swift, Kelly, McIntyre.
Blades: Henderson, Baldock, Basham, Egan, O'Connell, Stevens, Fleck, Norwood, Lundstram (Duffy 46), McGoldrick, Washington (Sharp 60). Not used: Moore, Coutts, Stearman, Cranie, Johnson.