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FA Cup

  • 9 March 2014
  • • 17:30
  • • Bramall Lane, Sheffield
  • Referee: L. Mason
  • • Attendance: 30048

Sheffield United 2-0 Charlton: Flynn and Brayford send Blades to Wembley

Sheffield United 2-0 Charlton: Flynn and Brayford send Blades to Wembley

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Nigel Clough's charges become the first third-tier side to reach the FA semi-finals since 2001 after two goals in two minutes downed a toothless Championship outfit

Two goals in as many second-half minutes earned Sheffield United a place in the FA Cup semi-finals with a 2-0 win over Charlton Athletic.

Ryan Flynn and John Brayford struck midway through the second period in front of over 30,000 fans at Bramall Lane as United continued their recent resurgence under Nigel Clough.

By Tom Marshall-Bailey

So it will be Sheffield United who head to Wembley for a first FA Cup semi-final since 2003 after disposing of a team from a higher division for the fourth round in succession as a lacklustre Charlton side were put to the sword at Bramall Lane.

After a turgid opening period, the game truly clicked into gear in the second half as goals from Ryan Flynn and John Brayford put the Blades firmly in the ascendency and they never looked like letting up after Callum Harriott's woeful miss came back to haunt Chris Powell's men, who lacked conviction in attack and heart all over the pitch.

Luckily for Blades boss Nigel Clough, his side had both in abundance and with a 30,440-strong crowd raising the roof every time they ventured forward, the lowly League One side pounced when Jose Baxter's cross found Flynn criminally unattended at the far post and the former Liverpool trainee was able to steer home into the far corner to send three sides of the ground, at least, into delirium.

Just 103 seconds later, the noise multiplied ten-fold as Brayford strode forward before unleashing a shot which deflected home past the statuesque Ben Hamer. Spurred on by the precocious talent of Harry Maguire, United were able to extend their run without conceding to over 600 minutes as the lowest-ranked side left in the competition lived up to their nickname and provided a steely resolve to seal a deserved final-four berth.
Despite being denied a Sheffield derby, a large crowd turned out and the majority will have gone home delighted after booking a place in the last four and a trip to Wembley.

Charlton's Callum Harriott, who scored in the 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the last round, ought to have put the visitors in front five minutes before Flynn's opener, but somehow shot wide of an open goal from 12 yards.

Harriott and Charlton were made to rue that miss as Flynn got on the end of a Jose Baxter delivery to stab the ball home, before Brayford's deflected strike two minutes later put the result beyond doubt as United reached the semi-finals for the first time in 11 years.

With such a huge prize at stake, both sides were tentative in a cagey opening, Harriott having the first meaningful shot on goal in the 22nd minute which was easily dealt with by home goalkeeper Mark Howard.

As the Championship side pushed forward, Marcus Tudgay stretched Howard further eight minutes later, sending in a low drive from the edge of the area that had the former Arsenal trainee diving low to his left to parry away.

The hosts finally threatened as half-time approached, Conor Coady seeing his strike disallowed for offside before Bob Harris fizzed an effort narrowly over the crossbar from 20 yards in stoppage time.

United picked up where they left off in the second half, Harry Maguire producing a neat turn inside in the box before firing his effort low into the side-netting.

On the hour, Harriott missed a glorious opening to put the visitors ahead.

Johnnie Jackson's quickly taken free kick found Tudgay all alone on the right-hand side of the area and as Howard rushed from his goal, the forward hooked the ball back towards Harriott who, on the stretch, stabbed his effort wide of an open goal from 12 yards out.

Charlton were made to rue that miss immediately as the hosts struck twice in two minutes to send Bramall Lane into raptures.

First, Baxter's deep cross from the left was met at the back post by Flynn, who did well to leap and adjust his body to prod the ball home from six yards.

Before the visitors could recover, the advantage was doubled as Brayford's strike from 25 yards deflected off former Sheffield Wednesday man Richard Wood, completely wrongfooting Ben Hamer and trickling into the net.

Charlton were stunned and could not recover as United comfortably saw out the remaining minutes to seal a ninth successive victory in all competitions, sparking scenes of jubilation at the final whistle.