Duffy, Stevens keep Sheffield United in promotion hunt
Nigel French - PA Images / PA Images / Getty

London - Second-half goals from Mark Duffy and Enda Stevens gave Sheffield United a vital 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Friday to keep alive their hopes of automatic promotion to the Premier League.

Duffy and Stevens struck after Forest had been reduced to 10 men -- Yohan Benalouane receiving a straight red two minutes into the second-half -- to end a run of two draws in the Championship.

Victory takes United into the second and final automatic promotion place ahead of Leeds on goal difference although the latter can leapfrog them later if they avoid defeat at home against struggling Wigan.

Sheffield United's win, though, dashed leaders Norwich City's hopes of celebrating a return to the Premier League later on Friday -- the Canaries would have gone up if United had lost and they beat Sheffield Wednesday.

"They (Forest) are a good side with an experienced manager so it was good to get in front, close the game out and get back to what we do," United manager Chris Wilder told Sky Sports.

"It's been a great effort by everyone and we are not done yet. It's been a tough week but we came roaring back," added the 51-year-old Englishman, who was voted by his peers Championship manager of the year.

Sheffield United had looked a bit blunt up front in a goalless first-half with their talismanic leading scorer Billy Sharp sitting out the game with a hamstring injury.

However, once Benalouane was sent for an early shower having brought down David McGoldrick there was no doubt about the result.

Duffy's brilliant curled effort beat Forest goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon to put them 1-0 up but the Romanian international saved his side from going further behind a minute later as his brilliant reflex save denied McGoldrick.

However, he could do nothing five minutes from full-time as Endaa Stevens slotted home into the far corner for his first goal at home in over a year.

"There were two bodies in the way so it was a great relief when it went in," Duffy told Sky Sports of his goal.

"It was all-important to win. It's nice to play well but it's all about the three points."

Bristol City missed an excellent opportunity to consolidate their place in the play-off spots as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to relegation-threatened Reading.

Yakou Meite fired home for Reading early in the second-half -- his fifth goal in as many games -- but City levelled with just under half-an hour to go, Josh Brownhill heading home.

Bristol City remain sixth but could drop out of the play-off places should Middlesbrough beat Stoke later on Friday.

Reading's point gives them a five point advantage over third from bottom Rotherham, who are away at Swansea later on Friday.

Bolton will join Ipswich in the third tier if they lose to an Aston Villa side which has won its last eight matches.

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Duffy, Stevens keep Sheffield United in promotion hunt
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