Manager Danny Wilson was full of praise for Sheffield United match-winner Dave Kitson after revealing the striker had jumped off his sick bed to help the Blades beat Preston 1-0.
The 32-year-old, who joined from Portsmouth in the summer, produced a cute finish to beat Thorsten Stuckmann two minutes before the break.
Preston's Paul Huntington saw a stoppage-time header superbly saved by 18-year-old George Long as Sheffield United made it 13 games unbeaten in the league this season.
And after seeing his side close the gap on League One leaders Tranmere, Wilson admitted he had no choice but to take Kitson off at half-time once he had done the damage.
"It was a great finish. He was taken off at half-time because before the game he was very poorly," he said. "We had to work very hard to even get him on the pitch and then to get a goal in 45 minutes was tremendous.
"That's the type of application the lads are showing at the moment. At half-time he was so sick that we couldn't possibly keep him on the pitch.
"I don't think anyone can say we haven't deserved it. We didn't concede a clear-cut opportunity until George made a fantastic save in stoppage time. If you want to be challenging at the end of the season you have to get results like this.
"We have to be disciplined away from home. We learnt a few lessons from last season when, at times, we dominated teams and we gave away a sloppy goal that ended up costing us games."
Preston manager Graham Westley admitted he was envious of the Blades' unbeaten start, and he said: "We want to be the club in the division that's leading the way and they're now the one unbeaten club in the league.
"The difference between the two sides was very slight and you can bring it down to an unbelievable save from the goalkeeper towards the death and a momentary lapse in concentration by ourselves."
- Dave Kitson
- Sheffield United
- Paul Huntington