Sheffield United 3 Bradford City 1: Full Time report
Sheffield United turned in one of their best performances of the season as Nigel Adkins' side beat Bradford City 3-1 at Bramall Lane.
The Blades were excellent, particularly in the second half and were thoroughly deserving of their win. Indeed, such was their superiority after the break, there should have been more goals.
Billy Sharp had the home side in front after ten minutes and a similar time into the second half substitute Conor Sammon doubled the advantage.
David Edgar made it 3-0 with a fine header and while Gary Liddle pulled one back for Bradford, the result was never really in any doubt as the Blades secured their third league win in a row
Both teams had been given an extended break with United's match against Wigan, scheduled for Boxing Day, postponed while Bradford's home game against Burton also fell foul of the heavy rain in the north of England.
As a result, the respective managers were able to field unchanged sides with both coming off the back of 1-0 away wins - the Blades at Scunthorpe and the Bantams at Chesterfield.
After an even opening few minutes United began to get a grip of the game as they kept hold of possession and passed around neatly. And the home side were rewarded after just ten minutes when they went ahead through a fabulous strike from Sharp.
Picking the ball up 20 yards from goal, the striker blasted into the far corner of the goal leaving the sprawling Ben Williams with no chance. That was Sharp's third goal in successive games and his 10th of the season.
Bradford upped their game somewhat following the Blades opener, but United were defending well and George Long had little to do in the home goal.
However, Adkins side were dealt a blow on 35 minutes when in-form Matt Done went down injured and after receiving treatment was eventually replaced by Sammon.
The atmosphere was cranking up as the half wore on. City were pressing forward, but were finding few gaps and a couple of debatable decisions against both sides provoked the ire of supporters in various stages.
While it wasn't a classic from a football purists perspective, it was certainly engaging, with every player on either side throwing themselves into everything.
And as an example of George Long's continued good form in goal for United, the keeper kept his side in front on 43 minutes when he brilliantly turned away a well struck Lee Evans free kick that looked destined for the top corner.
Right on the stroke of half time Sammon should have doubled the lead when he got on the end of an inch perfect Sharp cross, but somehow turned his effort wide of goal.
Bradford came out strongly after the break and came close to equalising on 50 minutes when Kyel Reid's well-struck effort flew about a foot past the post.
United weathered that storm though and the open nature of the game meant that the high-tempo, attacking football that Adkins promised when he took over was in evidence at last.
Sharp was at the heart of most of it, regularly drifting out wide and linking well with John Brayford and Paul Coutts. It wasn't just the goalscorer though. With every attack, the Blades pushed forward in numbers and at pace and Bradford could do little to contain them.
So it was unsurprising when on 59 minutes from a Coutts cross, Sammon atoned for his earlier miss by knocking in from close range to make it 2-0.
United were rampant by this stage and it was 3-0 after 63 minutes as Martyn Woolford's cross was emphatically headed home by Edgar.
The tempo of the game slowed slightly after that. United, knowing the game was all but won, kept hold of the ball well, passing it around the pitch with City at times chasing shadows.
There was something of a late rally though and with ten minutes remaining James Hanson hit the post and was then denied by Long with a follow up.
Two minutes later Tony McMahon's free kick was tipped over by Long and from the subsequent corner, also taken by McMahon, Gary Liddle scored from close range.
There were no further goals and United took the victory.
Sheffield United: Long, Brayford, Collins, Edgar, McEveley, Coutts, Basham, Hammond, Woolford, Sharp, Done. Subs: Sammon, Flynn, Baxter, Howard. Campvell-Ryce, Reed, Wallace.
Bradford City: Williams, Darby, Evans, Liddle, Hanson, B Clarke, Leigh, Burke, Reid, McArdle, McMahon. Subs: Meredith, N Clarke, Marshall, Knott, Bowery, Cracknell, Cole.
Referee: Mark Heywood