Sheffield United secured three points for the sixth time in a row and maintained their lead in League One with a 4-2 win against Southend United.
Many Sheffield United fans were cautious of the threat posed by the Shrimpers, who sat in seventh place prior to the fixture. Southend were undefeated in their last 13 league games and thumped Bradford City 3-0 in November.
Billy Sharp nearly gave his boyhood club the lead inside 20 seconds as it was Chris Wilder’s side who were quickest out of the blocks and took the lead within the first third minutes through fan-favourite Ethan Ebanks-Landell.
Southend then equalised in the 19th minute before centre-back Jack O’Connell restored the South Yorkshire club’s lead shortly before the half-time interval.
Wilder’s faith in Caolan Lavery was restored as the striker bagged a 72nd minute goal in his second league start for the club and was instantly followed by Kieran Freeman for the former Wales U21 international’s third goal in three games and securing the win for Sheffield United.
The win puts the Blades four points clear at the top of the table and the confidence grows in United’s hunt for promotion. The only downside to the game was debutant Samir Carruthers was replaced by Stefan Scougall with an injury as the midfielder impressed during his short time on the Roots Hall pitch.
Sheffield United have now lost just once in their last 22 league games and gain revenge for their loss to Phil Brown’s side at Bramall Lane earlier in the season, before the great run started.