At the 18th time of asking this season, Sheffield United finally managed a Premier League victory as Billy Sharp came off the bench to score the winner.
hris Wilder’s team had not savoured a win since July 11, when they were chasing European football. In their second season in the top flight, however, they have found everything conspiring against them.
They were helped last night by Ryan Fraser’s red card in the first half when the Newcastle winger picked up two bookings.
Sharp came off the bench in the second period and scored from the penalty spot after Federico Fernandez’s handball.
The hosts had enjoyed the best chances of the first half before being given the numerical advantage. David McGoldrick, their top goalscorer with four goals, headed over in front of goal and also forced Karl Darlow into a smart save.
Fraser’s two bookings came within three minutes of one another and were both in unthreatening areas of the pitch.
The first was a trip on John Fleck, then he committed himself to a challenge on McGoldrick when the forward was moving away from goal.
Wilder’s bold response was to take off a defender for Rhian Brewster, abandoning the 3-5-2 system that took the club into the Premier League and subsequently within sight of European football last season before getting stuck in their current rut.
Darlow showed why he has been tipped for an England call-up, saving from Jayden Bogle twice, as the hosts sensed a long-awaited first win and three points of the season.
Their chance came with 20 minutes left at a time when Newcastle had Paul Dummett off the pitch with a hamstring problem and Matt Ritchie was trying to come on as a substitute.
As Sharp ran at goal he became tangled with Fernandez, whose hand came out to flick the ball away. Sharp needed to wait for Andy Madley to check his pitchside monitor after VAR told him it was worth having a look.
But the striker kept his cool to send Darlow the wrong way for his third goal of the season.
Brewster could have added a second goal late on but his deflected shot cannoned off the post.
© Daily Telegraph, London