Blackwell salutes battling Blades

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Kevin Blackwell praised the tenacity of his Sheffield United players as they completed a west country double by beating Plymouth in miserable conditions at Home Park.

A week after winning at Bristol City, Blackwell's team were without their injured Ashton Gate hat-trick hero Darius Henderson but still claimed their third successive victory. Midfielder James Harper scored the 88th-minute winner from 25 yards as Argyle scrambled away Jamie Ward's corner from the left.

Delighted United boss Blackwell said after the 1-0 win: ``We knew it was going to be a tough game. We had to be resilient, strong and focused and I am delighted that we showed those qualities really."

He added: ``The defence was superb. The conditions out there were not conducive to good football, it was raining and the wind was howling all over the place.

``It makes it difficult. That's why teams don't like coming down here because you have to keep going and stay focused. It's important.

``We were putting them under good pressure towards the end and in the end we deserved to nick it but I would not have been unhappy with the draw. It was a great strike by James.''

Plymouth manager Paul Sturrock was left to rue what might have been for his team.

Just four minutes before Harper had his decisive say, home captain Carl Fletcher had powered a similar effort to the eventual winner from the edge of the Sheffield United penalty area but the ball struck the post.

Sturrock said: ``Football can be cruel sometimes. We lost to a stoppage-time goal at Leicester and we lost to a goal near the end again today.

``Carl has hit the post with a shot and then they go up the other end and score the winner. That's football, especially when you are down in the table where we are at the moment."

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Leicester City
Jamie Ward
Darius Henderson
Carl Fletcher
Bristol City
James Harper
Sheffield United
James Harper
Plymouth Argyle

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