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16:50 11th January 2014

Notts County 2-1 Blades - report

The Blades returned to Sky Bet League One action with a bump on Saturday.

Despite Conor Coady giving the Blades a very early lead, the Blades slipped to defeat at Notts County.

All looked rosy for United's 3,321 travelling fans when Coady fired home after two minutes but goals from Enoch Showunmi and Mark Fotheringham secured victory for ex-Blade Shaun Derry's County.

Following the previous week's FA Cup exploits at Villa, manager Clough opted for one change, Coady replacing Murphy, who dropped to the bench. Also amongst the substitutes was new loan capture Paynter and young midfielder Whitehouse, who has recently returned from a loan spell at York.

Clough's decision to bring in Coady reaped rewards after just two minutes as the Blades grabbed an early lead. From his position on the right, COADY ran at the County defence, played a neat one-two with Porter and confidently poked the ball beyond Bialkowski's right hand.

The goal set the tone for an entertaining opening ten minutes. Campbell-Ryce curled over after a run by Grealish and Coady had an easier chance to double his tally following good work from McGinn and Baxter, plus another neat lay-off by Porter.

It required a timely tackle by Maguire to prevent Murray shooting as County broke away and looked dangerous in a four-on-four situation and Doyle would have hoped to have done better when he volleyed over after a Blades corner was only half-cleared.

The start was open, entertaining for the fans, but it worked against the Blades. A Sheehan free-kick was easy for Long but the home side's equaliser arrived on 26 minutes. Campbell-Ryce was looking dangerous down the right and it was his powerful cross that was turned in by SHOWUNMI, the ball squirming under the Blades goalkeeper.

County's goal enabled the momentum to shift in their favour wide.
for a spell and United's Hill picked up the game's first yellow card, following a foul on Campbell-Ryce.

As half-time approached the Blades regained composure and attempted to apply pressure. County survived two appeals for handball in the penalty area, whilst a long-range free-kick from Baxter, which was well off target, was the last noteworthy effort of the first period.

Early in the second half McMahon fired over as the ball hit a bobble just as he was about to unleash but the home side began well and asked questions of the Blades defence. Murray fired over and Long had to rush off his line to ensure there wasn't disastrous consequences from McMahon's back pass.

Baxter was off target with two long-range efforts and the first change of the afternoon was by the Blades - Paynter introduced for his debut, replacing Flynn. The new boy joined Porter up front, leaving Coady and Baxter in wide midfield roles.

Midway through the half, however, County went ahead. Possession was lost when the ball bounced off Hill's boot and after play was switched, Sheehan's cross found FOTHERINGHAM, whose initial header was saved by Long but the rebound dropped to the midfielder to poke home.

McMahon was booked for simulation but the Blades were the predominant attacking force in the last 20 minutes. One of the better chances saw Baxter and McGinn linked up well but the latter's shot, after a neat turn, was over.

In the final 10 minutes Murphy took over from McGinn as the midfield was rejigged once more. Paynter was booked and late on Miller replaced Hill.

The last of the Blades changes was robbed by Leacock as he looked to get in on goal as five minutes of added time was announced. In the injury-time period the Blades were again pushing forward but a number of fortunate ricochets - plus Baxter's half-volley sliding just wide of the post - helped County avenge the opening day defeat at Bramall Lane.

Notts Co: Bialkowski, Sheehan, Smith, Leacock, Grealish, Showunmi, Murray (Haynes 85), Campbell-Ryce, Fotheringham, Freeman, Boucaud.
Unused: Thompson, Tempest, Hollis, Bishop, Pilkington, Ball.

Blades: Long, Maguire, Hill (Miller 88), Flynn (Paynter 64), Doyle, Porter, Baxter, McGinn (Murphy 82), Collins, Coady, McMahon.
Unused: Howard, Brandy, Whitehouse, Kennedy.