SHEFFIELD (AFP) - Sheffield United gave their hopes of Premiership survival a huge boost with a 1-0 win over already-relegated Watford on Saturday.
Michael Tonge's 44th-minute shot, which was deflected into the net by the shoulder of Watford's former England fullback Chris Powell, was enough to give Neil Warnock's side the three points and that is exactly the margin between them and the relegation zone.
Blades boss Neil Warnock had drafted Christian Nade into his forward line at the expense of Luton Shelton in the only change from the side that had secured a valuable draw against fellow strugglers Charlton last weekend.
Already-relegated Watford gave Lee Williamson a rare start in midfield after Damien Francis was ruled out with a knee injury.
Aidy Boothroyd's side, who were doomed to the drop following their draw with Manchester City last weekend, appeared determined to go down fighting, with skipper Gavin Mahon yellow carded after only five minutes for a dangerously high late tackle on Matthew Kilgallon.
Despite the high stakes involved, United were oddly subdued at the outset, offering little threat before Nade latched on to a Chris Armstrong punt and went round Ben Foster only to fluff his finish from a tight angle, allowing the on-loan Manchester United keeper to regain his ground and save.
That only contributed to the tension in the ground, which was finally lifted just over a minute from the break.
Cutting in from the left, Tonge fired in a right-foot shot that deflected off Powell's shoulder and left Foster helpless.
Watford had a good chance of an equaliser shortly after the break, when Marlon King fired over, and the striker was desperately unlucky in the 65th minute, when be barged past Chris Morgan and chipped Paddy Kenny only to see his effort bounce back off the bar.
After that let-off, United were able to hold on fairly comfortably for three precious points.