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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
16:50 29th December 2013

Blades 3-1 Tranmere - report

The Blades completed 2013 with an impressive home victory - making it eight unbeaten.


Jamie Murphy and Ryan Flynn scored on their return to the team, whilst Jose Baxter netted his fourth in five games.


The victory helped the Blades climb the Sky Bet League One table, including leapfrogging Tranmere Rovers.


Flynn and Murphy were recalled, the Scottish duo took over from White and Miller with Cuvelier and Kennedy handed places on the bench.


Expectedly, Flynn and Murphy began in wide areas in an orthodox 4-4-2 system but the first action surrounded Porter, although the referee was not interesting in handing United a penalty following his clash with Ridehalgh. Also in the first five minutes, goalkeeper Fon Williams collected a Maguire header from McMahon's free-kick.


United's impressive start, though, was rewarded soon after. A Baxter corner from the right was won by Collins and MURPHY, despite having his back to goal and marked tightly by Horwood, swivelled before firing powerfully past Fon Williams.


The offensive by United continued after the opening goal. Baxter just failed to connect with a back post cross from McMahon, Flynn fired just wide from 25 yards and Murphy and Porter combined to set up a shooting chance for McGinn, but he lashed over the crossbar.


All associated with Tranmere will feel they should have levelled with their first attack on 20 minutes. Lowe beat Collins and Long and kept the ball in play but after cutting back and expecting an empty net, the striker's shot was kicked off the line by Maguire.


A Murphy run and cross saw Tranmere's Taylor cannon the ball off his own crossbar but the visitors hit back and after McMahon was booked for a challenge on Robinson, Holmes fired wide after arriving late in the box and a Lowe shot was parried away by Long.


On the attack, the Blades were using the flanks well and putting the visitors under pressure. Plenty of corners and free-kicks kept Tranmere on the back foot and when half-time arrived many will have thought that 1-0 did not do justice to the home side's dominance. Before the break, Baxter headed wide a McMahon cross, McGinn had a header and a shot blocked, whilst Hill's drilled effort across the box was sliced clear.


McMahon fired over from distance early in the second half but Tranmere were given hope following a number of loose passes, including one from Long, until the second Blades goal arrived. McGinn threaded a pass down the right channel for Porter, he immediately spotted the run of BAXTER, who lost his marker before calmly slotting past Fon Williams.


Flynn began a good move that almost resulted in the third goal but Doyle's shot was pushed away by the overworked visiting goalkeeper and just before Tranmere completed their quota of substitutes, Maguire was booked for a foul on Lowe.


United's third, however, did arrive halfway through the second half. Baxter set Murphy free on the left and he intelligently pulled back for the advancing FLYNN to side-foot into the corner of the net.


Baxter received a standing ovation when he was replaced by Coady with 20 minutes remaining and the next change was Lappin taking over from McGinn in central midfield.


Late on United remained in charge. Flynn and Coady combined to work a shooting chance for Porter but Fon Williams made a fine save at full stretch, whilst a Lappin volley was wide.


Cuvelier replaced Flynn for the closing moments and Tranmere were given a glimmer on 85 minutes when defender TAYLOR smashed home a Koumas free-kick, then a volley from Kirby skimmed the crossbar as injury-time approached


However, United's supremacy, including five added minutes, was not seriously challenged as the Blades finished 2013 with a deserved victory.


Blades: Long, Maguire, Hill, Flynn (Cuvelier 83), Doyle, Porter, Baxter (Coady 70), McGinn (Lappin 75), Collins, Murphy, McMahon.
Unused: Howard, L. Taylor, Brandy, Kennedy.


Tranmere: Fon Williams, Holmes, Horwood, A. Taylor, Lowe, Robinson (Kirby 61), Atkinson (Akpa Akpro 61), Jennings, Koumas, Ridehalgh, Peterson.
Unused: Rowe, Stockton, Mooney.