SWINDON Town rose into the League One play-off places in style with a total dismantling of Sheffield United at the County Ground.
Michael Smith scored twice and Jon Obika, Andy Williams and Louis Thompson also netted as the Robins crushed the Blades in an utterly compelling encounter.
Having gone 3-0 up in the 58th minute, Town were pegged back by goals from Marc McNulty and Ben Davies for the visitors before romping home in the latter stages of the contest.
Town started brightly and almost went in front in the fourth minute, as Yaser Kasim’s 25-yard free-kick brushed the top of the Blades’ crossbar, before Obika sidefooted wide from a tidy Brad Smith cross six minutes later.
The hosts were totally dominant for the entire first half and took the lead in the 13th minute. Louis Thompson broke out of midfield with possession, carrying the ball from inside his own half before laying off for Michael Smith, who coolly beat Mark Howard to register his first goal in 39 days.
Further chances continued to present themselves up until the interval. Nathan Byrne slid in Massimo Luongo, only for the Aussie to power a shot wide with only Howard to beat, while Raphael Branco nodded a near-post header at the Sheffield United stopper and Obika couldn’t his head over another aerial chance.
With so many near misses already racked up, Town were thankful to Wes Foderingham with 10 minutes remaining of the first period, as he saved from Stefan Scougall when the ball fell to the visiting forward six yards out.
It would have been a fully unmerited equaliser.
The second half began as the first had finished, with Swindon in complete control. It took just 10 more minutes for the Robins to double their advantage. Luongo burst into the box and was tripped by Neill Collins, referee Gavin Ward pointed to the penalty spot and Smith stepped up to notch his second of the afternoon.
Now the visiting Blades were really rocking and Swindon took advantage to pile on the misery in the 58th minute. Brad Smith delivered from the left, Obika took the time to get the ball from under his feet and sidefooted neatly beyond Howard.
The County Ground crowd was buoyant but their delirium was dampened by the away side finding a way past Foderingham in the 65th minute. Ben Davies swung in a cross from the right and, when Town couldn’t clear the loose ball, McNulty was on hand to scoop over Foderingham.
Andy Williams flew off the bench to test Howard with a curling effort from range in the 68th minute but the Blades keeper was equal to the task, leaping to his left to tip the ball out for a corner, from which Michael Smith headed wide.
With 18 minutes remaining, however, United clawed back to within a goal of their hosts. Swindon backed off defensively, allowing time for Jamie Murphy to cross from the left and, when Foderingham could only get the slightest of touches, Davies produced a classy first-time volley to find the back of the net.
Momentarily, it felt as though Swindon were going to be steamrollered but they restored their two-goal buffer with 75 minutes on the clock. Brad Smith’s delicate throughball played in Williams, who rolled past Howard with precision.
Town made the game safe in the 86th minute. Kasim somehow wriggled through two challenges by the corner flag and teed up Louis Thompson, who blasted a rasping drive in off the crossbar.