A 40th minute winner from Chris Porter was enough to send Danny Wilson's Sheffield United three points clear at the top of npower League One this afternoon after a 1-0 victory over Yeovil Town.
Porter's scruffy goal, following good work from top scorer Richard Cresswell, maintained the Blades unbeaten record and for the Glovers, insult was added to injury when Curtis Haynes-Brown was sent off for a second yellow card deep into stoppage time by over-officious referee Keith Stroud.
Seven players were booked in a game with very few dirty challenges and the match official had to rely on his assistant to award the goal after Yeovil players claimed the ball hadn't crossed the line. The cautions along with a host of fouls disrupted any chance of a flowing fixture and Town exited the pitch for the third game running with fewer points than they deserved.
Boss Terry Skiverton was forced into two changes from last weekend's 1-1 draw at Walsall. Bondz N'Gala failed to recover from his hamstring injury in time so Haynes-Brown came in while Jonathan Obika was replaced by Steve MacLean in a reverse change from last week's move.
It took until the tenth minute for there to be a chance worthy of the name as Sheffield United passed the ball around comfortably and Yeovil replied with quick breaks, utilising the pace of Haynes-Brown, Andy Williams and Alan O'Brien.
It was Williams who had that chance; a great team move then saw Huntington play a long diagonal pass to the ex-Bristol Rovers attacker who chested it down but couldn't get his shot on target.
O'Brien then almost created a chance for Gavin Williams but his run produced a tantalising cross that just eluded the Welshman.
The game then descended from a decent spectacle into a niggly affair with four bookings in the space of a quarter hour. First in the book was Paul Wotton who was penalised for fouling Blades defender Matt Lowton and he was followed by MacLean who threw the ball away after an incorrect call on a throw-in.
Michael Doyle couldn't get enough height to direct a header on goal from a far post cross and as the drizzle came down, so did the quality of play. Cresswell was blocked right on the edge of the box by Max Ehmer with referee Stroud insisting the kick was retaken fro encroachment even though the first effort had sailed over the wall!
On the half hour, Haynes-Brown earned his first yellow card when he took out Ryan Flynn right by the dug-outs but four minutes later, Flynn himself was cautioned for tugging back a breaking Upson. denying the Glovers the advantage of possession.
Yeovil's defence, reverting back to a 4-4-2 formation today, was coping well with the threat of the Blades, none more so than Paul Huntington who timed his challenge perfectly in the box to deny Porter as he was about to shoot.
Stephen Quinn sent over a free kick on 36 minutes that was headed in by Lowton at the far post but referee Stroud ruled the goal out for a push on Town keeper Jed Steer.
Four minutes later, and with five minutes until the interval, Sheffield United took the lead. Cresswell broke down the left and pulled the ball across for Porter to bundle over the line before being collected by Steer. Although the supporters vented yet more wrath on the officials, Glovers keeper Steer later confirmed the ball had crossed the line.
The first half action was far from over though. Lescinel Jean-Francois scythed down a flying Andy Williams wide on the left and earned a yellow; Williams limped off injured and was replaced by Anthony Edgar.
The second half began with Ed Upson curling a long range shot over the bar but the game was then halted for fully four minutes as Nick Montgomery landed awkwardly after an aerial challenge and was stretchered off.
Quinn then took too long to get a shot in after a mix-up in the Town defence had left him with space outside the box but after twisting and turning, his shot lacked power.
Yeovil were bossing the second half possession but still weren't creating that golden chance to draw level. MacLean, playing against old adversaries after his spell with Sheffield Wednesday, broke clear but was hauled down by Doyle; this came eight minutes after Cresswell had taken Ehmer's legs away as he cleared the ball and both United players earned yellows for their challenges.
Paul Wotton stung keeper Steve Simonsen's fingers with a piledriver free kick but Max Ehmer's follow up was held by the ex-premier League keeper.
Upson fired another long ranger over on 74 minutes; two minutes later, there was a flare-up between Quinn and Edgar after the visiting midfielder had kicked the ball away after a throw-in.
Rory Fallon was introduced for his ex-Plymouth colleague MacLean in a like-for-like swap and O'Brien went off to be replaced by Billy Gibson who settled into his left wing berth with ease.
Simonsen then had to deal with a skidding shot from the impressive Edgar that threatened to slide off the turf in the closing stages but despite six minutes of stoppage time due to Montgomery's injury, Yeovil couldn't find the breakthrough.
Deep in stoppage time, Haynes-Brown challenged Blades substitute Jordan Slew and as the ball broke, was adjudged to have tripped Slew as they both got up. Referee Stroud brandished the second yellow, and then red, as the youngster trooped off the pitch to applause for his contribution and workrate.