Speed inspires impressive Blades
Blackpool beaten at Bloomfield Road
Last Updated: 23/08/08 5:46pm
Speed: Blades hero
Veteran midfielder Gary Speed inspired Sheffield United to victory against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road.
The 38-year-old helped create Stephen Quinn's opener in the 21st minute and found the net himself when he converted a 57th-minute penalty.
Former Blades striker Steve Kabba pulled one back in the 74th minute for the home side, only for Greg Halford to quickly restore the cushion for Kevin Blackwell's men.
The visitors were dangerous throughout and came close to opening the scoring in the third minute.
Quinn was heavily involved, firing goalwards from 12 yards only to see Jermaine Wright block his effort.
The ball rebounded to Billy Sharp - who scored a hat-trick in last weekend's 3-0 home demolition of QPR - but the boyhood Blades fan fired wide from six yards.
Blackpool, who handed a full debut to Kabba, were not without a goal threat themselves.
They signalled their intent in the eighth minute when on-loan Liverpool winger Adam Hammill struck a fierce dipping volley from 20 yards which flew narrowly over the visitors' crossbar.
Kabba then had a shot parried by Paddy Kenny before warming the United goalkeeper's hands from distance.
Having weathered the early storm, United hit Blackpool with a classic sucker-punch to open the scoring midway through the half.
Veteran Speed showed intelligence to slip a neat pass through to Quinn 12 yards from goal and the Irishman clinically dispatched the ball past Blackpool goalkeeper Paul Rachubka and into the bottom right-hand corner.
It was a massive fillip to United but also a significant personal boost for Quinn, who is thought to be on the brink of a call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad.
New coach Giovanni Trapattoni has been alerted to Quinn's impressive start to the season and will monitor his form ahead of next month's World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Montenegro.
Blackpool's response to Quinn's strike was encouraging but Claus Jorgensen had a 20-yard shot blocked, Hammill was twice denied by Kenny and Rob Edwards was thwarted by Speed's brave challenge.
Blackpool's frustration was epitomised on the stroke of half-time when Gary Taylor-Fletcher dragged a right-foot shot disappointingly wide.
The pendulum swung back towards the visitors as the second half began and three minutes before the hour mark they effectively secured the points.
Edwards fouled Ugo Ehiogu inside Blackpool's penalty area and Speed made no mistake from 12 yards with a fine strike that flew into the top corner to give Rachubka no chance.
Yet Blackpool refused to surrender and found a lifeline with 16 minutes remaining when Kabba volleyed home right-footed from 12 yards.
Any hopes of a comeback were dashed four minutes later, however, when Halford collected a pass from Michael Tonge and finished neatly from six yards.
Sky Bet Championship
Sat 23rd Aug
Charlton4 - 2Reading
QPR2 - 0Doncaster
Cardiff2 - 2Norwich
Sheff Wed1 - 1Preston
N Forest3 - 2Watford
Birmingham2 - 0Barnsley
C Palace0 - 0Burnley
Ipswich0 - 2Wolves
Blackpool1 - 3Sheff Utd
Derby0 - 1Southampton
Coventry0 - 3Bristol C
Plymouth0 - 1Swansea
Sky Bet Championship
|4||Queens Park Rangers||42||73|
|7||Brighton and Hove Albion||42||64|