Blades blitz Crewe
By Simon Fudge. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Sheffield United scored three early goals on course to a 3-2 victory over struggling Crewe Alexandra at Gresty Road.
Strikes from Jon Harley, Andy Gray and Danny Cadamarteri inside the first 12 minutes sealed the points for The Blades on Friday evening, as Crewe later replied through Steve Foster and a Paul Thirlwell own-goal in a losing effort.
Both sides were keen to bounce back from their midweek Carling Cup defeats and it was the visitors that showed a real keenness to get forward, with Paul Shaw missing the Crewe goal with a curling strike just seconds in.
However, it took less than five minutes for The Blades to take the lead, as Harley's exquisite left footed free kick (pictured) from the edge of the area flew over the Crewe wall and past a diving Ben Williams for 1-0.
Blades boss Neil Warnock had more to smile about after 10 minutes, as his side doubled their lead when Andy Liddell's cross from the right found Gray and his powerful header beat Williams, despite the goalkeeper's best efforts to prevent it crossing over the line.
The away side then made it three in 12 minutes when Cadamarteri flicked home Leigh Bromby's header across the Crewe goal after Liddell's swung in a deep cross from the left.
Despite being three goals down, Dario Gradi's Railwaymen responded midway through the half, as skipper Kenny Lunt's free kick into the box found an unmarked Foster and he easily headed the ball past Paddy Kenny for 3-1.
With a goal back, the home side then looked for a penalty when on loan Jon Otsemobor went down in the box after challenging for the ball with Derek Geary.
However, referee Mick Fletcher waved their appeals away, as The Blades took a two-goal lead into the break.
The second half saw more chances fall to the visitors, with Shaw just missing the net with a shot after Harley knocked back Cadamarteri's cross from the left.
Chris Morgan then tested Williams with a strong header, as Sheffield United looked for a fourth goal.
However, as the half moved on, the visitors seemed content with their lead and sat back a bit, thus allowing Crewe to come forward.
Lunt missed a great chance to make it a contest with a right footed free kick from the edge of the area that went over the bar.
Moments later, the Alex captain then set up substitute Luke Varney with a close-in chance, but his header went wide.
But Crewe did score a second goal in injury time, as Thirlwell unfortunately put into his own net after Foster's header from a corner from the left went off him and past a diving Kenny.
The goal, however, came too late for the home side to salvage a point, as Sheffield United move up into the play-off places with the win while Crewe stay just two points above the relegation zone in the table.
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