Billy Sharp’s second-half penalty earned Sheffield United a long-awaited first Premier League victory of the season as they beat Newcastle United 1-0 on Tuesday.
Chris Wilder’s side had failed to win any of their opening 17 matches of the season – the worst start to a Premier League campaign – but finally came good to leave the pitch with three points in the bag for the first time in six months.
Newcastle, reduced to 10 men when Ryan Fraser was sent off just before halftime, were abject and could have few complaints as their winless league run extended to six matches.
Sheffield United dominated the first half with Dave McGoldrick twice going close, and they were eventually rewarded in the 73rd minute.
This was when substitute Sharp coolly converted from the spot after Federico Fernandez was adjudged to have knocked the ball away with his hand under pressure from Sharp.
Rhian Brewster’s deflected shot nearly made it 2-0 but the ball rebounded off the post and the hosts endured a nervy finale with Jayden Bogle going dangerously close to an own goal.
There was huge relief when the final whistle sounded seconds later, and while Wilder still faces a monumental task to try to keep the club up, the mood of gloom hanging over Bramall Lane has been lifted, at least temporarily.
Victory more than doubled Sheffield United’s points tally to five although they remain rock bottom and nine points behind Brighton and Hove Albion who sit one place above the drop zone.
“It’s a huge relief, I’m so happy for the boys.
“It was important we got a win.
“It was scrappy at times but in the first half I thought we were brilliant,” Sharp said.
“Everyone has written us off, the pressure is off.
“We’ve not had a great time in the last few months but we’ve got to keep our heads high now. We’re good enough to do it.”