Blunt Blades Beaten By Best
Report of match Sheffield United 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 3 played 26th May 2003
Sheffield United produced a terrible performance as they were beaten 3-0 by Wolverhampton Wanderers in Division One play-off final.
First-half goals by Mark Kennedy, Nathan Blake and Kenny Miller helped Wolves ease to a 3-0 win against Sheffield United in the Nationwide Division One play-off final at the Millennium Stadium.
Despite finishing four points behind their rivals in the first division table, Wolves will be playing the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal next season while the Blades must visit Gresty Road and the Bescot Stadium.
Dave Jones' side took the lead in the sixth minute when Kennedy rifled home a great shot from the edge of the penalty area after Blake and Miller had set up the Republic of Ireland international.
Although the Blades tried to hit back, Wolves continued to look dangerous on the break and when Phil Jagielka's header back to Paddy Kenny fell short in the 13th minute, the United keeper had to be alert to clear the danger.
Kenny then had to be at his best nine minutes later to deny Colin Cameron as the Wolves midfielder fired in a fierce effort after a great individual run.
However, from the corner Paul Ince glanced the ball towards goal and Blake headed home from close range.
United's best chance of a dismal first half for them came seven minutes before the interval when Ince nearly turned the ball into his own net, only for Matt Murray to come to his rescue.
However, Miller added a third goal in first-half stoppage time when the Scottish international slotted home his 24th goal of the season by turning Shaun Newton's cross past Kenny.
Neil Warnock was forced to watch the second half from the stands after being sent off for comments made to the referee at the break.
The game appeared to be over but the South Yorkshire side were handed a lifeline immediately after the restart when Paul Butler needlessly handled the ball.
However, Murray produced an outstanding save to keep Michael Brown's spot-kick out.
The miss proved to be costly as Wolves defended doggedly and made it hard for the Blades to create many clear-cut chances.
Brown failed with a weak long-range effort in the 57th minute but the introduction of effervescent substitute Paul Peschisolido did provide a spark for the misfiring South Yorkshire side.
The Canadian international had a header cleared off the line by Kennedy, although it did appear that the effort was handled and Michael Tonge's rasping free-kick was touched on to the crossbar by the outstanding Murray.
However, Wolves had little trouble protecting their lead as they returned to English football's top flight for the first time since 1984.
|Competition: Nationwide Football League Play-Offs (Lvl 2) Date: Monday, 26th May 2003 Kick off: 19:45 Venue: Bramall Lane|
||0 - 3||Wolves
|9||Carl Asaba (Allison 74)||7|
|14||Wayne Allison (Asaba 74)|
|16||Kenny Miller (Sturridge 75)||8|
|29||Dean Sturridge (Miller 75)|
|12||Adam Proudlock (Hill 88)|
|Sheff. Utd. cards shown|
|77 mins||Michael Tonge||Unsporting behaviour|
|79 mins||Michael Brown||Unsporting behaviour|
|Wolves cards shown|