Ward's Late Show Seals Points
Jamie Ward`s late free-kick was enough to claim the victory for the Sheffield United, and put them within two points of the play-off places.
The Blades persistence eventually paid off after having the majority of the play in the Championship encounter. However, when it looked like both sides would have to settle for a point in what had been a scrappy tie Ward`s set-piece bypassed everyone and bounced just inside the far post.
Kevin Blackwell was forced into one change with Derek Geary replacing the injured Kyle Walker. Ched Evans and Henri Camara were also recalled to the side in place of Andy Taylor and James Harper, who wasn`t even named on the bench. Michael Tonge started the game in central midfield for North End.
Attacking the Bramall Lane end the Blades piled on the early pressure, Camara, Cresswell and Ward all having shots blocked. Jon Parkin`s effort from distance was a bigger threat to the ball boy in the corner than to Mark Bunn`s goal in his final appearance for the Blades before his loan spell expires.
The highlight of the game came shortly after, when Trevor Kettle concluded his incompetent performance with what can only be described as a cop-out, holding his hamstring and being replaced by the fourth official. The next chance fell to Evans who volleyed straight at Lonergan after good work on the right by Geary. The last real chance to fell to Camara who broke through the defence but lifted the ball over the bar as Lonergan came rushing out.
The chances dried up in the second half, as the game became a battle in midfield, Bunn stopped Tonge`s effort, and when Evans headed the ball across goal Cresswell was just beaten to his header by the impressive Sean St Ledger.
Stuart Elliot looped a header narrowly wide from Callum Davidson`s cross when Bunn was stranded before the goal finally came. Former Rotherham United winger Chris Sedgewick brought down Stewart on the left and Ward`s in swinging delivery was missed by everybody including the goalkeeper and sent the Blades fans into raptures, and gave the Blades all three points in the final game of 2009.