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2017/18 English League Championship, Regular Season
  • Alan Browne (57')

Sheffield United 0-1 Preston North End

Alan Browne's second-half tap-in was enough for Preston to keep their play-off hopes alive as they defeated Sheffield United 1-0 in a lacklustre game.
The result leaves Preston two points shy of Derby going into the final day.
The first half was a cagey affair from both sides, in a game that held significance in the battle for the play-off race. Preston controlled the majority of possession, with United winning most of the physical battles.
Preston's only major chance of the first half came in the 11th minute. Callum Robinson sold Lee Evans a dummy but slipped up before he could let fly and his rushed shot was blocked by Richard Stearman.
A quarter of an hour in, United created their first chance of the match. Leon Clarke muscled his way to the ball after Mark Duffy was dispossessed. From 15 yards out, his shot was blocked and looped narrowly wide of the far post.
Moments later there were strong cries for handball as Billy Sharp's cross struck Greg Cunningham's raised arm, however the referee was unmoved by the appeal.
Enda Stevens made a good run down the left-hand side into the box, pulled the ball back perfectly for Blades top scorer Clarke, but he could only aim his first-time effort into the body of goalkeeper Declan Rudd.
What followed was a succession of hopeful long balls from United as they tried to penetrate Preston's stubborn defence.
On the stroke of half time John Fleck had a tremendous effort blocked. Just outside the area he volleyed the ball on the outside of his foot towards goal, but a spectacular header from Cunningham cleared away the powerful effort.
The Blades kept up the momentum but failed to create any more chances before the break.
Minutes after the re-start, Preston started on the front foot. A dangerous cross from Sean Maguire was cleared away by Chris Basham, with Robinson and Ben Pearson hoping for a tap-in.
The goal came in the 57th minute when Josh Harrop forced a decent save from Jamal Blackman, but the keeper's parry was not enough and Browne was on hand to poke the ball into an empty net.
Eleven minutes later Preston thought they had doubled their lead when an indirect free-kick found Maguire and he redirected it across to substitute Tom Clarke who aimed a looping header into the net. However, the linesman's flag was raised for offside.
A quarter of an hour from time, Rudd had to be on his toes. Substitute Baldock attempted to loop a first-time effort over Rudd, who was alert to help the ball on its way over the bar.
In stoppage time Robinson nearly added a second when, from close range, he forced a good save from Blackman.

English League Championship Standings

POS Team GP GD PTS
1 Norwich City 17 +8 33
2 Middlesbrough 17 +11 31
3 Leeds United 17 +12 30
4 Sheffield United 17 +8 30
5 West Bromwich Albion 17 +12 28
6 Derby County 17 +5 28
7 Nottingham Forest 17 +7 27
8 Swansea City 17 +6 26
9 Blackburn Rovers 17 -1 26
10 Queens Park Rangers 17 -4 26
11 Aston Villa 17 +4 24
12 Birmingham City 17 +3 24
13 Bristol City 17 +1 22
14 Stoke City 17 -1 22
15 Brentford 17 +4 21
16 Wigan Athletic 17 -7 20
17 Sheffield Wednesday 17 -9 20
18 Preston North End 17 -4 18
19 Rotherham United 17 -9 18
20 Reading 17 -5 16
21 Millwall 17 -7 16
22 Hull City 17 -8 16
23 Bolton Wanderers 17 -12 16
24 Ipswich Town 17 -14 11