Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder dedicated victory to “our fantastic fans” after watching his team win the 128th Steel City derby.
Goals from Leon Clarke (2), John Fleck and Mark Duffy propelled the visitors to a deserved win over arch-rivals Sheffield Wednesday in front of a near 33,000 crowd at Hillsborough.
It was the first meeting between the two clubs since 2012 and Wilder, who led United to the League One title last season, said: “We went over to our end after the final whistle and why shouldn’t we go over there? We’ve had it rammed down our throats enough over the last six years or whatever. To give the supporters something back, we’re delighted.
“We didn’t go over the top. We were just enjoying the moment with our fantastic supporters who have had a lot to put up with over the last few years.”
Clarke, the former Wednesday centre-forward, raced towards the bench to celebrate with United captain Billy Sharp after scoring the first of his two efforts.
Sharp, a lifelong United supporter, was omitted from the starting eleven due to injury and Wilder, explaining Clarke’s actions, added: “It’s been tough for us. Our inspiration skipper, for him not to play, it’s been a difficult week for Bill. We thought it was right, just in case we needed something late on, he’s nowhere near fit. He’s 10 days into a minimum two to four week injury.
“The way he handled himself in the week, the selflessness he showed, was first class. He’s a proper captain. Captaincy isn’t just about leading from the front and scoring goals. It’s about more than that. When Leon came over to Billy, to Ched (Evans) and all the other boys, it just shows we’re as one.”
United raced into a two goal lead when Clarke pounced following Fleck’s early strike. Wednesday dragged themselves level through Gary Hooper and Lucas João before substitute Mark Duffy restored United’s lead. Clarke put the match beyond Wednesday’s reach during the closing stages.
“They showed some b******s, that’s been ingrained in our team,” Wilder said. “We’ve come up, not to just make the numbers up, but to come here and play like we did. I’m not criticising anybody on the other side, because they’ve got their own agendas. Why should they be bothered about us because we’ve been away for six years. But I thought we were always a dangerous team.”
“To drive the game forward and to win it, pretty comfortably at the death, was special,” he added. “It doesn’t get any better, it was all on out there.”