Crewe Alexandra 2 Sheffield United 3

Last updated : 29 October 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Neil Warnock's Sheffield United moved into the play-off places after an early three-goal blast saw them run out 3-2 winners at Crewe.

The Blades were 3-0 up in the first 12 minutes, through Jjon Harley, Andy Gray and Danny Cadamarteri.

Although Crewe hit back through a Steve Foster header and grabbed a second in stoppage-time, the margin of the Blades' victory did not truly reflect their dominance.

The recalled Paul Shaw posed an early threat when he curled a left footer past the far post.

But Crewe keeper Ben Williams was soon picking the ball out if his net when Harley stepped up and curled in a free-kick from the edge of the box into the top right hand corner.

Crewe were reeling again when Andy Liddell pulled the ball back from the right byline and Gray planted a close-range header, which the keeper spilled over the line.

Cadamarteri then flicked his head onto Phil Jagielka's knock down from a corner and the ball flew into Williams' top left hand corner.

It was the 34th goal that the former Manchester United reserve had conceded in the league this season.

There were calls from fans before the game that Trinidadian Clayton Ince should be handed a recall, but Crewe boss Dario Gradi kept faith with the youngster who endured some more hairy moments as his side came under sustained pressure.

The Railwaymen were lacklustre at the back as well as the front, where they were missing leading scorer Dean Ashton, ruled out with a hamstring injury.

David Vaughan offered them the best hope of getting back into the game and one searing 40-yard run from the Welshman should have been utilised better, but Steve Jones missed his kick from the cross and Kenny Lunt shot straight into the legs of United debutant Derek Geary.

Jones did come close on the stroke of half-time when he flicked a header over the far post from Lunt's cross.

Crewe had reduced the arrears before then when Foster headed in his first league goal of the season when he met Lunt's free-kick at the near post.

The visitors should have added to their lead in the early part of the second half, but Shaw scuffed an effort wide when it seemed easier to score.

Crewe substitute Luke Varney missed a sitter five minutes from time when he headed wide from the six-yard box.

It proved to be costly because there was still another goal within Crewe's armoury, but it came deep into injury time when Foster rose highest to meet Vaughan's corner and watched as his header deflected in off Paul Thirlwell.