League One
Northampton1Sheff Utd2

Northampton Town 1-2 Sheffield United

Billy Sharp celebrates Sheffield United's promotion
Captain Billy Sharp was hoisted aloft by jubilant Sheffield United fans after the Blades confirmed promotion to the Championship

Sheffield United confirmed their return to the Championship after a six-year absence with victory at Northampton.

The Blades knew a win was enough to send them up and, after Marc Richards put the hosts ahead, Leon Clarke and John Fleck scored to secure promotion.

Chris Wilder made a triumphant return to Northampton, having led the Cobblers to the League Two title last season.

United will win the League One title if they take four points from their final four games of the campaign.

Even if the Blades had lost, they would still have been promoted as third-placed Fleetwood were beaten at Oldham.

John Fleck celebrates
John Fleck's late winner at Northampton secured Sheffield United's 26th league victory of the season

Blades end long wait to leave League One

Promotion from League One has been a long time coming for United, who were relegated from the Championship under Micky Adams in May 2011.

They had three failed play-off campaigns in their previous five seasons in the third tier, but have secured automatic promotion this time around with four games to spare.

Danny Wilson, David Weir, Nigel Clough and Nigel Adkins all had spells in charge of the Blades before Wilder, a boyhood Sheffield United fan, was named as manager in May 2016.

Wilder's appointment came shortly after he had led Northampton to automatic promotion from the fourth tier, but he made a slow start as his new side took only one point from his first four league matches.

However, the Blades have lost only three more league games since 20 August and have not dropped outside the top two places in the division in 2017.

Key to the club's success this term has been captain and striker Billy Sharp, who has scored 26 goals in 42 league outings.

Since the start of the 2015-16 season, Wilder has taken charge of 88 league matches and won 55, collecting 187 points.

Sheffield United celebrate
Sheffield United need four more points to win the League One title

Wilder told BBC Radio Sheffield: "It's just incredible. It's life-changing and I feel quite emotional about it.

"We all put our heart and soul into it. They're a special group of players and they deserve to go down as that because they have had pressure on them week in and week out. I am so proud of them.

"The scenes at the end of the game and in the dressing room will live with me for a lifetime."

Line-ups

Northampton

  • 1Smith
  • 2Moloney
  • 5Diamond
  • 22Nyatanga
  • 3Buchanan
  • 4AndersonSubstituted forMcWilliamsat 70'minutes
  • 21O'Toole
  • 31Taylor
  • 35WilliamsSubstituted forMcDonaldat 81'minutes
  • 24SmithSubstituted forRevellat 70'minutes
  • 9Richards

Substitutes

  • 7Anderson
  • 10Revell
  • 12McCourt
  • 17McWilliams
  • 18Phillips
  • 26Cornell
  • 28McDonald

Sheff Utd

  • 25Moore
  • 18Freeman
  • 6Basham
  • 5O'Connell
  • 13Wright
  • 24LaffertyBooked at 23mins
  • 15Coutts
  • 4FleckBooked at 79mins
  • 44CarruthersSubstituted forSharpat 45'minutes
  • 27ClarkeSubstituted forEbanks-Landellat 82'minutes
  • 26O'SheaSubstituted forHansonat 53'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Long
  • 10Sharp
  • 11Done
  • 16Hanson
  • 19Ebanks-Landell
  • 21Duffy
  • 32Chapman
Referee:
Mark Heywood
Attendance:
7,425

Match Stats

Home TeamNorthamptonAway TeamSheff Utd
Possession
Home48%
Away52%
Shots
Home8
Away15
Shots on Target
Home2
Away8
Corners
Home4
Away7
Fouls
Home10
Away10

Live Text

Match ends, Northampton Town 1, Sheffield United 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Northampton Town 1, Sheffield United 2.

Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Rod McDonald.

Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Marc Richards.

Foul by Shaun McWilliams (Northampton Town).

Kieron Freeman (Sheffield United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Goal!

Goal! Northampton Town 1, Sheffield United 2. John Fleck (Sheffield United) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Billy Sharp.

Foul by Shaun McWilliams (Northampton Town).

Billy Sharp (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Sheffield United. Ethan Ebanks-Landell replaces Leon Clarke.

Substitution

Substitution, Northampton Town. Rod McDonald replaces Luke Williams.

Zander Diamond (Northampton Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Leon Clarke (Sheffield United).

Booking

John Fleck (Sheffield United) is shown the yellow card for hand ball.

Attempt missed. Paul Coutts (Sheffield United) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Zander Diamond.

Attempt missed. Leon Clarke (Sheffield United) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.

Corner, Northampton Town. Conceded by Kieron Freeman.

Substitution

Substitution, Northampton Town. Alex Revell replaces Michael Smith.

Substitution

Substitution, Northampton Town. Shaun McWilliams replaces Paul Anderson.

John Fleck (Sheffield United) hits the bar with a right footed shot from very close range.

Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Adam Smith.

Attempt saved. Billy Sharp (Sheffield United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Attempt missed. Matthew Taylor (Northampton Town) left footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

Michael Smith (Northampton Town) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Jake M Wright (Sheffield United).

Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by David Buchanan.

Attempt saved. Jack O'Connell (Sheffield United) header from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Zander Diamond.

Foul by Michael Smith (Northampton Town).

Jack O'Connell (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Goal!

Goal! Northampton Town 1, Sheffield United 1. Leon Clarke (Sheffield United) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by John Fleck.

Attempt saved. John Fleck (Sheffield United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Attempt saved. James Hanson (Sheffield United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Foul by David Buchanan (Northampton Town).

Kieron Freeman (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Northampton Town. Conceded by Jack O'Connell.

Attempt blocked. Brendon Moloney (Northampton Town) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Matthew Taylor (Northampton Town) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by John Fleck (Sheffield United).

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Sheff Utd422610680453588
2Bolton422310963352879
3Fleetwood4220121058401872
4Bradford421818657391872
5Scunthorpe4220101271512070
6Millwall421813115950967
7Southend4218121264501466
8Bristol Rovers421712136159263
9Rochdale421710156660661
10Oxford Utd42179165851760
11Peterborough421610165755258
12MK Dons421413155452255
13Wimbledon421315145252054
14Walsall411315134851-354
15Northampton42149195966-751
16Charlton421117145151050
17Oldham421115162942-1348
18Bury421210205871-1346
19Shrewsbury421210204359-1646
20Gillingham421113185472-1846
21Port Vale411112184463-1945
22Swindon421110214360-1743
23Chesterfield42910233966-2737
24Coventry42811233462-2835
View full League One table

Top Stories