SHEFFIELD, England (Reuters) -A first-half goal by David McGoldrick gave Sheffield United a bittersweet 1-0 win home over Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday a week after the Blades were relegated from the Premier League.
Sheffield United lost any chance of staying in the top flight after a 1-0 defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers in the previous round but they left struggling Brighton with work to do if they are to avoid joining them in the second-tier Championship.
The result left the Seagulls 16th on 34 points from 33 games, seven ahead of 18th-placed Fulham who occupy the final relegation spot with five games remaining. Sheffield United stayed bottom on 17 points.
The home team's interim manager Paul Heckingbottom praised his side after celebrating his first win with the Blades following four successive defeats since he took over from Chris Wilder last month.
"The players deserve the utmost credit," he told the BBC. "We spoke before the game and for them it's justice and the right result for their attitude because its been a tough, tough season.
"You get what you deserve in football and tonight we got the three points. "We know we are a Championship club next season but it doesn't mean we're not going to enjoy these last few games."
McGoldrick netted in the 19th minute after Brighton's defence failed to clear the danger and the home team's striker beat goalkeeper Robert Sanchez with a smart left-footed shot on the turn from eight metres.
Sheffield goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale twice denied Neal Maupay, who also skied a shot from three metres with the goal at his mercy after Brighton midfielder Jakub Moder had a goal disallowed for offside in the build-up.
Yves Bissouma and Jose Izquierdo also came close for Brighton but the home side held on in the closing stages.
Brighton boss Graham Potter was disappointed.
""It's a frustrating result and the performance wasn't probably the level it has been recently," he said.
"We didn't have the quality we can have and when that happens in the Premier League it can be hard. It's not enough because there's a lot of points to play for."
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Clare Fallon)