The pitch didn't suit him today

Last updated : 24 March 2002 By Tony Scholes

After the weekend results we are still in fourth place but there is nothing surer that we are going to have to find some considerably better form than this or we could find ourselves slipping out of the top six.

It was one match more than most that Stan hates to lose with the sight of Neil Warnock on the opposition bench. Warnock had the upper hand this time of that there was no doubt and was delighted with his team after the game,

"I'm delighted. I thought we played some excellent football and I couldn't believe we were only 1-0 up at half time as the game should have been over. We had some great chances and not half chances either, but we've been like that all season.

"I was pleased for Phil Jagielka because he has missed a few in the last few games. These young lads have become men and it's exciting times now really. They all get on well and it's a great dressing room and that showed on the field.

"Phil said he would score. He missed two sitters at the training ground on Friday and said that he was saving it for Burnley. I was pleased for him because it has been coming. Tonge, Montgomery, Javary and Jagielka have all fitted in magnificently and it shows. People say we have nothing to play for but the enthusiasm of the younger lads rubs off on the senior players and it was a great performance.

"There was a lot of commitment but the skill and the way we pass the ball around was great - it is a good time to see the kids blossoming.

"After the events of the last week we talked with our feet and showed what we can do. The lads haven't let anything get in the way of playing football."

Stan accepted that our hosts were the better side but to be honest it was difficult not to in a game where we really were never at the races. After the game he said,

"It was a disappointing performance. We can play a lot better than that but they scored two fantastic goals. The second goal was class, a great strike, but we didn't play to our normal standards.

"We didn't start very well and we started with three forwards, but we didn't get the ball forward. All in all, Sheffield United were the better side and deserved their victory.

"Gazza is getting there, but the pitch didn't suit him today. It has had four games on it this week and we had to adapt, but they did it better than us. We have a week's rest now and we'll crack on next week."

Jagielka boosts Blades

Pete Oliver at Bramall Lane (Sunday Times)

SHEFFIELD United manager Neil Warnock may consider taking up a more permanent residence in the directors' box after seeing his second win in five days from his lofty perch.

After the controversy of last Saturday's abandoned game against West Bromwich Albion, Warnock decided to keep a lower profile away from the bench. That decision looked even wiser when Burnley manager Stan Ternent publicly announced his dislike of his opposite number prior to yesterday's meeting.

Ternent had accused one of Warnock's staff of listening in to a team talk during last season's game as Bramall Lane, which United won to end Burnley's playoff hopes.

A repeat of that outcome may not do the same again, as Burnley remain comfortably in the top six. But the manner of a first defeat in four games is more likely to concern Ternent, whose side were undone by Phil Jagielka's first senior goals either side of an explosive strike from Laurent D'Jaffo, Warnock making it down to the dug-out in time to see Jagielka round things off seven minutes from time.

Ternent had shown his attacking intent by recalling leading scorer Gareth Taylor as part of a three-pronged attack. However, the move left Paul Gascoigne exposed and United took full control in a breathless opening that could have seen them out of sight before Burnley mustered a shot on goal.

Gascoigne still has an eye for the killer pass but embarrassingly for the former England international it was in the wrong penalty area that he picked out United striker Paul Peschisolido, who rounded Marlon Beresford, but Gascoigne's blushes were spared when the keeper stretched out a hand and pushed the ball past the post.

The Blades were not to be blunted, however, and got their long overdue reward when Jagielka drilled a low shot through Beresford's grasp from 22 yards.

Burnley sent on Paul Weller in place of Ian Moore at half-time to strengthen their midfield but within three minutes were facing a two-goal deficit as D'Jaffo, surplus to requirements in the summer but impressive here, crashed home an unstoppable shot from outside the penalty area after winning a challenge with Thomas.

United looked the side with something to play for, al-though Burnley almost gave themselves hope when Taylor eluded Keith Curle only for goalkeeper Tracey to save at his feet.

Burnley on the slide

By Michael Staniforth at Bramall Lane (Sunday Telegraph)

SHEFFIELD UNITED made a mockery of Burnley's top-flight aspirations as they continued to exert a significant influence on the promotion race.

A week previously Sheffield had lost an infamous game against West Brom 3-0 and finished with only six men. In midweek they dented the hopes of Millwall with two late goals and in their third successive home game they outplayed Burnley.

Paul Gascoigne had a shocker for the visitors. He was substituted after 70 minutes and none of his team-mates looked anything other than ordinary.

Sheffield made just one change from their victory over Millwall, with Laurent D'Jaffo replacing the injured Steve Lovell.

Burnley gave a second start to Gascoigne and top-scorer Gareth Taylor returned after suspension.

One of Gascoigne's first touches was a blunder. His careless back-pass was seized upon by Paul Peschisolido but Marlon Beresford turned his shot round a post. Peschisolido, troubled by a foot injury, was then sent clear by D'Jaffo but shot across goal.

D'Jaffo had already sent a header straight at Beresford as Sheffield dominated, and a deserved goal arrived on 20 minutes. Burnley again failed to clear their lines and Phil Jagielka scored from just outside the penalty area, with Beresford deceived by a slight deflection.

Jagielka could have doubled his season's tally almost immediately, but his header flashed wide.

It took the visitors 25 minutes to come to life, when David Johnson's shot was parried by Simon Tracey, but only poor finishing by Peter Ndlovu meant they went into the interval just a goal down.

The second goal came just two minutes after the restart, when D'Jaffo sent a screamer into the top corner from 20 yards. But still Sheffield were profligate, most notably when Peschisolido raced clear to spurn his third good chance. They might have been punished for that but Tracey twice denied Taylor and Johnson's first touch ruined Gascoigne's one good pass of the afternoon. Taylor's looping header hit the crossbar and just two minutes from time Jagielka scored his second goal.