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21:43 26th January 2010

Report: Royals cut down by Blades

Sheffield United 3 (Fortune 12, Cresswell 42, Morgan 82)
Reading 0

The Royals fell to a frustrating 3-0 defeat at Bramall Lane on Tuesday evening, despite dominating a first half in which Gylfi Sigurdsson saw his spot kick saved by man of the match Mark Bunn.

The Blades took a one goal lead after defender Jonathan Fortune volleyed home, but Reading responded well and wasted a number of chances before Sigurdsson saw his penalty tipped away.

Richard Cresswell tapped home to make sure his side took a somewhat fortunate lead into the half time break, before Chris Morgan bundled the ball in to complete a miserable Yorkshire night for Brian McDermott's men.

Sheffield United: Bunn, Taylor (Stewart HT), Walker, Morgan, Fortune, Quinn, Ward (Yeates 85), Harper, Montgomery, Cresswell, Evans (Henderson 81)
Subs: Williamson, Bennett, Geary, Camara
Yellow: Morgan, Harper, Quinn

Reading: Federici, Bertrand, Griffin, Mills, Ingimarsson, Sigurdsson, McAnuff, Cisse (Howard HT), Karacan (Kebe 75), Long, Thorvaldsson (Rasiak 64)
Subs: Hamer, Pearce, Khizanishvili, Church.
Yellow: Griffin, Howard

Referee: Mr P T Crossley
Att: 24,009

First Half

Despite some early United pressure and a succession of early corners it was the Royals who had the best chance of the opening stages, and it fell to the feet of Shane Long.

The Irish international was picked out in the area by a superb, probing Jobi McAnuff pass - but was unable to bring the ball down in-time to properly test Mark Bunn.

The home side responded swiftly, as Reading found themselves exposed on the left flank, and a looping cross was headed over the bar by Ched Evans.

Moments later some quick thinking by Kyle Walker allowed Jamie Ward to latch on to his throw in, though the former Chesterfield man saw his rasping half volley tipped around the post by Adam Federici.

The Aussie international was able to keep the Blades out on that occasion, but was powerless to stop United taking the lead after 12 minutes - as centre half Jonathan Fortune expertly controlled a ball at the back post, and with space to spare fire home to open the scoring.

McAnuff rallied quickly to test the reactions of Sheffield stopper Bunn three minutes later, but saw his long range daisy cutter clipped away from goal by the number 23's outstretched digits.

With 17 minutes remaining in the first period Ivar Ingimarsson slipped his marker to scurry onto Ryan Bertrand's chipped set piece, but the Royals captain saw his header well saved by Bunn.

Brian McDermott's side were visibly growing in confidence as the game wore on, and had another opportunity to level proceedings ten minutes before the break. First up Gylfi Sigurdsson showed quick feet to slip the attentions of three Blades midfielders, before sliding a pass through to Gunnar Thorvaldsson.

The Icelandic international showed good pass to get on the receiving end, but couldn't quite settle himself in time to get a shot away.

The visitors deserved a break at that stage and they got in the form of a penalty kick. Chris Morgan hauled down Shane Long in the box, giving Mr P Crossley no option but to point the spot. Unfortunately that switch in fortunes didn't hang around too long for the blue and white hoops, as Sigurdsson saw his spot kick well saved by Bunn.

Regular football buffs won't have been too surprised by how proceedings next unfolded, as United punished their opponents by doubling their lead. Kyle Walker showed pace down the right wing before stinging the palms of Federici from a tight angle, and a fortunate deflection allowed Richard Cresswell to tap home.

It was brutal on Reading who had outshone United for the majority of the half, and perhaps summed up their season so far.

Second Half

The second half began much in the same vein, as Thorvaldsson's immaculately timed through ball found Long, but again the Royals were wasteful as Shane saw his low drive palmed away by Bunn.

Possession was very much in favour of Brian McDermott's side, but despite a succession of corners and free-kicks they couldn't force their way through in the opening minutes of the second period.

Ched Evans neatly controlled a James Harper range finder before firing over the bar on 70 minutes, as the Reading boss used his final substitution to throw Jimmy Kebe into the fray.

Unfortunately Reading's misery was further compounded with eight minutes left on the clock, as the Blades grabbed their third.

A Stephen Quinn free-kick was flicked on by Jamie Ward, and was already dropped into the far post as defender Chris Morgan got a final touch to seal victory for the home side.

Kebe attempted to bag a consolation with a run and shot from the parameter of the box, but could only strike the ball into the forlorn travelling support.

The boys were forced to make the long trip down the M1 a miserable one, as lady luck once more deserted them in Championship football.

    Data provided by Press Association