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16:55 19th January 2013

Notts County 1-1 Blades - report

United are unbeaten in the last four away games in League One but will be disappointed with Saturday's draw at Notts County.

In freezing conditions, Harry Maguire gave the Blades an early lead and County's Francois Zoko was sent off in the first half for speaking out of turn.

However, the Blades created little in the second half and Alan Judge netted a header with ten minutes to go to ensure the spoils were shared.

Boss Wilson made one enforced change with Westlake taking over at left-back from Williams, who was ill, whilst United's bench included a number of youngsters, including 17-year-old Italian U18s international, De Girolamo.

With snow surrounding the perimeter, the Blades fans were in good voice in the Jimmy Sirrel Stand and were soon rewarded for their vociferous backing. Kitson won a corner from Hughes and from Blackman's inswinginging delivery, MAGUIRE held off his marker to power a header past Bialkowski. The goal was recorded at two minutes, but just over 60 seconds had elapsed when the defender's header rippled the net.

Little more than another minute later, United almost doubled the lead from another corner. This time Blackman swung in from the left and Higginbotham headed into the ground and Bialkowski tipped over, whilst before the 10-minute mark Maguire had won another header from a Blackman corner.

County also had their chances early on. Leacock beat the offside trap but could not connect with a Sheehan free-kick and a half-volley from Hughes was over after he took advantage of Maguire's clearance hitting him.

After the initial drama, it was clear that Blackman was partnering Kitson in attack and Murphy and Flynn were supporting from wide roles. However, the Blades were forced into a period of defending - twice McMahon prevented Hughes from a potential leveller, firstly denying him a free header and then blocking a shot with his head. Arquin shot over and had another effort deflected away for a corner before an incident stemmed the home side's flow.

On 25 minutes Murphy had a shot blocked before the ball broke to United's right where Zoko was penalised for a foul on the advancing McMahon. Zoko was incensed with the decision and even being shown a yellow card failed to calm him down - further protests forced referee Haywood to send off the County man.

The home side took a few moments to regain their composure and in the mean time Kitson connected with a McMahon cross and was not far from doubling the lead, whilst Bialkowski was forced to rush from his line to avert danger on a couple of occasions.

County did, though, manage a couple of half-chances before the break. Judge took a steadying touch and volleyed over whilst Higginbotham had to be alert to head clear a Campbell-Ryce cross.

The Blades started the second half well and came close to a goal on 48 minutes. McMahon robbed Bishop on the right and then linked up with Kitson to present a chance for McDonald but the midfielder was denied by Bialkowski rushing from his goal.

Just before being replaced by Ironside, Kitson was the first Blade to be cautioned, for a foul on Hughes, and more quality defending from Higginbotham prevented County levelling from the resulting free-kick.

A spell of County pressure, despite their numerical disadvantage, caused problems and at one point Long had to bound out from his goal to head clear when Judge raced through. Clear-cut chances, however, were at a premium, until the 81st minute when an inswinging Sheehan free-kick was flicked home by JUDGE.

County were content to defend after their equaliser, whilst United pushed in an attempt to restore the advantage. Westlake was allowed to run but shot wide and Ironside was crowded out as he looked to turn in the box.

Four minutes of added time was signalled and McDonald was unable to find the target with a volley and two set-pieces also failed to produce a late winner.

County: Bialkowski, Sheehan, Leacock, Liddle, Campbell-Ryce, Boucaud, Bishop, J. Hughes, Judge, Arquin (Bencherif 89), Zoko.
Unused: Spiess, Smith, Kelly, Mahon, Labadie, Nangle.

Blades: Long, Westlake, Higginbotham, Maguire, Flynn, Doyle, Blackman, McDonald, Kitson (Ironside 61), Murphy, McMahon.
Unused: Cresswell, McFadzean, Whitehouse, Kennedy, Coyne, De Girolamo.