Sheffield United fought back to claim a priceless Premier League victory over fellow strugglers West Brom.
With their clubs occupying the bottom two positions in the top-flight, both managers had identified the importance of this fixture to their hopes of avoiding relegation.
And initially the Baggies’ more direct approach appeared to give them the upper hand at a rain-soaked Bramall Lane.
Callum Robinson had already pulled a left-foot shot wide when Matt Phillips tapped in the opener after home goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale had parried efforts from Robinson and Mbaye Diagne.
However, the Blades improved after the break and levelled when Jayden Bogle lashed a left-footed effort into the bottom right corner after being teed up by Chris Basham.
Ramsdale’s superb close-range save from Robinson then provided his side with the platform to go on and win the contest.
And Billy Sharp’s prodded finish into the bottom left corner saw the Blades collect only their third win of the season.
While Chris Wilder’s side remain bottom of the table they are now just a point behind West Brom, in 19th, and are 10 points from safety.
Blades bounce back
For the first 45 minutes it had looked like being another typical hard-luck story for Sheffield United.
The Blades displayed plenty of endeavour but rarely showed enough spark to break down a stubborn West Brom defence.
However, the introduction of Oliver McBurnie at the break provided Wilder’s side with an extra body in attack and the impetus to come from behind to win a Premier League match for the first time since 9 February 2020.
A late first-half injury to George Baldock also inadvertently helped, with Bogle switching to the right and marauding forward at every opportunity.
His impressive understanding with Basham offered a useful outlet and provided the hosts with the goal that started their comeback.
After having just four attempts on goal in the first period, the hosts managed 10 in the second, which was a reflection of their dominance.
And with Wilder preparing to substitute Sharp, the forward atoned for a wayward first-half header with the winning contribution.
Baggies in need of instant improvement
Since their Black Country derby victory over Wolves at Molineux, West Brom have collected just one point from 12 available.
And with fixtures against Tottenham and Manchester United on the horizon, manager Sam Allardyce had suggested that this was a “must-not-lose” game.
With that in mind, the former England boss said his side would revert to a “simple” style of football after they were completely outplayed at times in their 2-2 draw at Fulham.
And he stuck to his word, with the Baggies shifting from a three-man defence to a conventional 4-4-2 formation and taking few chances by attempting to play out from the back.
While neither of his deadline-day loan signings – Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Okay Yokuslu – featured, Diagne was handed a first start.
And his robust presence, complemented by Robinson’s running and an energetic display from Phillips set the tone for an early spell of dominance.
However, that control faded and bar Robinson’s chance midway through the second period, they rarely looked capable of adding to their goal tally.
More disappointingly for Allardyce, they were undone by some lax defending with both Bogle and Sharp being surrounded by a posse of West Brom defenders, when they scored.
‘Sharp was coming off’ – what they said
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder: “We needed a big second-half performance. We huffed and puffed in the first half. It’s a really disappointing one from our point of view [conceding the first goal]. The second half was a lot better. We were on the front foot and driving the opponents back.
“It was always not going to be a free-flowing game with the two teams in the situations they are in. We were just a bit slow in the first half. I thought we were okay without really dominating or creating many clear-cut chances. We just had to let ourselves go a little bit which we did in the second half. We were more ambitious.
“Just because we have won a couple of games recently, it’s the Premier League and it hurts you. I have a group that are alive and kicking and fighting for their lives.”
On Billy Sharp scoring: “He was coming off. It’s the life and times of a manager. It’s a decent finish for us. We had to gamble in the second half so to get the goal is great for him.
West Brom boss Sam Allardyce speaking to BBC Sport: “It’s an emotional game isn’t it? You have to see times out. I thought we were looking good from that point of view. We could have avoided both goals so we ended up losing a game.
“When it came to chances – particularly that chance to Callum Robinson – it’s a wonderful save from the goalkeeper. That would have killed Sheffield United. This is a tough league. It punishes you and the players who are here are finding out how tough it is.
“There is no time to relax. You can’t not do your job correctly, particularly when you are defending. Overall, our defending today was very good. Those two moments could have been avoided and it’s cost us two goals.
“It leaves us with a great gap to fill. It’s simple maths. We know how many points it takes to stay in this league. What other people do and what other clubs do, we can’t affect that. We have to focus on getting 38 points.”
Baggies’ defensive woes
- Sheffield United have now won three of their last five Premier League matches (L2) – as many as in their previous 27 in the competition (W3 D4 L20).
- West Bromwich Albion have conceded 26 goals in nine Premier League games under Sam Allardyce – as many as they conceded in 13 games under Slaven Bilic this season.
- Since January 9th, when Sheffield United ended a 21-game winless run in all competitions with a 3-2 win over Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup, the only Premier League side with more wins in all competitions than the Blades (5) is Manchester City (7).
- West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone has conceded 50 Premier League goals in his first 21 appearances – the joint-quickest a goalkeeper has ever shipped 50 goals in Premier League history, along with Barnsley goalkeeper David Watson in 1997/98 (also 21).
- In just 10 appearances in all competitions for Sheffield United, Jayden Bogle has scored as many goals as he managed in 90 games for Derby County (3).
- West Brom’s Matt Phillips scored his first league goal of the season – he has now found the net in each of the last 13 seasons in English league football, stretching back to the 2008/09 season.
- Since Chris Wilder first game in charge of Sheffield United in August 2016, Billy Sharp has scored 76 goals in all competitions – 44 more than any other Blades player in that time.
Sheffield United next play in the Premier League when they host Chelsea on Sunday, 7 February (19:15 GMT).
West Brom travel to Tottenham on the same day for their next top-flight match (12:00 GMT).
West Bromwich Albion
- 2BaldockSubstituted forLoweat 44′minutes
- 16NorwoodSubstituted forMcBurnieat 45′minutes
- 4FleckBooked at 82mins
- 17McGoldrickBooked at 84mins
- 10SharpSubstituted forBurkeat 86′minutes
- 10PhillipsSubstituted forGallagherat 74′minutes
- 12Costa PereiraBooked at 90mins
- 7RobinsonSubstituted forGrantat 68′minutes
- 17DiagneSubstituted forRobson-Kanuat 68′minutes
- Paul Tierney
Match ends, Sheffield United 2, West Bromwich Albion 1.