MARVIN Emnes dealt Sheffield United’s relegation fight a hammer blow with an 89th-minute winner for Middlesbrough to send the Blades to the bottom of the npower Championship table.
Dutch striker Emnes raced clear on to Julio Arca’s late throughball and held his nerve to slide the ball beyond Blades goalkeeper Steve Simonsen for only his third goal of the season to extend Boro’s unbeaten run to five matches.
His winner was cruel on United, who had cancelled out Matthew Bates’ first-half opener for the visitors through Matthew Lowton before half-time.
Micky Adams’ side were chasing the winner when Arca unlocked their defence, but slumped into bottom place as relegation rivals Preston secured a point at Portsmouth, while Scunthorpe upset leaders QPR.
Middlesbrough went ahead in the 18th minute when Bates latched on to Andrew Taylor’s cross from the left and drilled a left-footed shot into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
Taylor had earlier lashed a 20-yard shot just wide, but the Blades went close through Lowton, whose angled drive was blocked by visiting midfielder Nicky Bailey.
Boro goalkeeper Paul Smith pulled off a fine save to keep out a close-range effort from Darius Henderson, installed as Blades’ skipper, and Bailey then got in the way of Daniel Bogdanovic’s goalbound header as the home side chased an early equaliser.
But United midfielder Bjorn Helge Riise stole away down the left channel in the 28th minute and his cross to the far post was headed home by Lowton as the Blades were rewarded for a concerted spell of pressure.
But it was Boro who snatched all the points. Substitute midfielder Arca picked out Emnes’ run through the middle and the Dutchman kept his composure to tuck his shot inside Simonsen’s far post.
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RESULTS: Saturday, April 9, 2011.
Sheffield United 1 Middlesbrough 2
Barnsley 4 Bristol City 2
Doncaster Rovers 1 Cardiff City 3
Brighton 2 Sheffield Wednesday 0
Cheltenham Town 1 Rotherham United 1
Hereford United 3 Chesterfield 0
Tuesday, April 12 (All kick offs 7.45pm BST):
Sheffield United v Cardiff
Barnsley v QPR
Doncaster v Preston