DERBY VERDICT: "A massive win", says Blades boss Blackwell

SHEFFIELD United manager Kevin Blackwell hailed his first steel city derby victory "a massive win" after defeating the Owls 3-2 at Bramall Lane.

For in depth report, reaction and photos see The Star's Green Un, our bumper weekend sports paper, from tomorrow evening – and The Star on Monday, September 21, 2009.

Blackwell became the first United manager in 95 years to succumb to a league double to Wednesday last season, but three unanswered first-half strikes from United forwards Jamie Ward and Darius Henderson, plus Lewis Buxton's own goal, wiped out his derby anguish.

The Blades swept their rivals aside in the opening period of this clasic Championship derby and, such was their dominance, had statisticians reaching for the record books at the interval.

But Marcus Tudgay threw the Owls a lifeline two minutes into the second period and half-time substitute Etienne Esajas ensured a thrilling final 25 minutes when he lashed home a long-range free-kick.

Blackwell, whose side have climbed to fourth place in the table, said: "To be honest with you that monkey has been on my back for a while.

"As great a season as we had last season many locals dismissed it because we lost twice to Sheffield Wednesday.

"So it was a massive, massive victory tonight. I had 10 new players who had never experienced a Sheffield derby.

"Try tell them what it's like. They now know what it's like. I'm delighted to get such a big result."

Blackwell praised new loan signing Andrew Davies, who arrived from Stoke earlier in the day and replaced Matt Kilgallon, who was suffering with a chest infection.

But the Blades boss revealed his side's first derby win since February 2006, in front of a crowd of 29,210 that created an electric atmosphere, was tempered by the loss of goalscorer Ward, who was stretchered off in the first half with a torn hamstring.

Blackwell added: "Andrew Davies looked a bit rusty in the first half an hour, but as the game went on he got better and better.

"He came in this afternoon and it was a case of throwing him in, so he showed terrific mental toughness.

"We were superb in the first half. It could have been four or five, but Wardy was a big loss.

"He's on fire at the moment. He took his goal really well. He has goals in him and he's a real threat, so to lose him for six weeks is a blow."

Owls manager Brian Laws blamed himself for his side's first defeat in five derby clashes against the Blades, claiming he had not picked the right line-up for tonight's clash.

He said: "I blame myself because you've got to pick the right team.

"We had three games in six days and maybe I needed to change a few more players.

"Etienne had been in our thoughts and we wondered if this was the game for him. Jermaine Johnson was poor tonight. He was ineffective."

Laws added he was delighted his players had recovered some pride for their fans with their second half performance and despite taking only one point from three league matches in six days, there was good reason for optimism.

He said: "I wanted some pride back and they've given me that. I can at least look my players in the eye now, particularly our own supporters, and say we gave it a go."

The Owls boss also confirmed central defender Mark Beevers was waiting for the results of a knee scan after he was stretchered off in the midweek defeat to Middlesbrough.

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Fri, Sept 18, 2009:

BLADES DERBY DELIGHT: Sheffield United 3 Sheffield Wednesday 2

Sat, Sept 19, 2009:

ROVERS THRILLER: Doncaster Rovers 3 Ipswich 3

REDS DRAW: Barnsley 0 Swansea City 0

League Two:

SPIREITES STUNNER: Chesterfield 4 Macclesfield Town 1

MILLERS EARN POINT: Cheltenham 1 Rotherham United 1


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