Report: Bury 1, Sheffield United 3 - Blades extend lead at top of League One with fifth win on bounce
Sheffield United extended their lead at the top of League One by beating Bury at Gigg Lane this afternoon.
United went behind, to a stunner by their former youngster Jacob Mellis, but hit back through Billy Sharp, a Kelvin Etuhu own goal and Kieron Freeman's second goal in two games.
With Bolton only snatching a late point at Coventry and Scunthorpe drawing at home to Peterborough, Chris Wilder's side are now three points clear at the top.
United, who confirmed before kick-off that Marc McNulty had been recalled early from his loan spell at Bradford City, named the striker on the bench at Gigg Lane. Joining him there were Paul Coutts and Mark Duffy, both rested, while Leon Clarke missed out altogether due to injury.
Caolan Lavery partnered Billy Sharp upfront, Jake Wright returned in defence and Stefan Scougall was recalled.
United started brightly, with Sharp shooting wide and Scougall heavily involved, but they were rocked after 12 minutes when Mellis, their former academy player, put the home side ahead with a superb effort from outside the box, giving Simon Moore no chance.
But United dragged themselves back in the game when skipper Billy Sharp levelled from close range, poking home after John Fleck's inswinging free-kick had caused mayhem in the Bury box.
Lavery forced Ben Williams into a good save as United pressed for another, and Sharp saw a penalty appeal turned down when Kelvin Etuhu blocked his path in the box.
Scougall saw his shot well blocked after good work from Lavery, and Etuhu was booked after a late challenge on Chris Basham. Sharp then squandered a decent chance to put his side ahead after robbing Antony Kay.
James Vaughan smashed wide five minutes into the second half when it seemed easier to put the hosts ahead, and was later booked for lunging at Jake Wright. Duffy replaced Scougall and wasted little time in setting up a chance for Chris Basham, who fired wide, and United kept pressing until they eventually went ahead.
Freeman's enterprising run set up Lavery, who sidefooted across the face of goal with Sharp waiting to pounce. But before it got there, Etuhu poked the ball into his own net to send the visiting fans wild.
And they were in fine voice again when Freeman scored his second in two games to put United 3-1 ahead and calm any lingering nerves. Lavery was again the instigator, his stepover and cross allowing Freeman the simplest task of tapping home from yards out.
Vaughan hit the bar with a stinging left-footed effort after substitute Paul Coutts, who replaced Dan Lafferty, underhit a backpass but United stood firm for their fifth consecutive victory.
Bury: Williams, Leigh, Etuhu, Kay, Vaughan, Mellis (Danns, 65), Soares, Burgess, Bedeau, Styles (Pope, 79), Mackreth (Miller, 79). Subs: Dudley, Rachubka, Hope, Cooney.
Blades: Moore, Freeman, Ebanks-Landell, Wright, O'Connell, Lafferty (Coutts, 79), Fleck, Basham, Scougall (Duffy, 53) Lavery, Sharp (Done, 90). Subs: McNulty, Done, Ramsdale, Brown, Coutts, Wilson.
Ref: Rob Lewis. Attendance: 6,123 (3,157 away)