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22:00 2nd August 2013

Blades 2-1 Notts County - report

The Blades were the winners in an historic game at Bramall Lane on Friday evening - the first of The Football League's 125th anniversary season.

Kevin McDonald scored the first goal of the campaign and Harry Maguire netted the winner as County played over 75 minutes with ten-men after Gary Liddle was sent off.

Under David Weir's stewardship, the Blades clocked up hundreds of passes in a winning start.

David Weir's first competitive selection as manager included new boys Brandy and McGinn, whilst Taylor, Coady and McGinty were on the bench. The Blades were forced to kick towards the Kop in the first half and started with the favoured pre-season formation of 4-2-3-1 with Porter the lone striker, supported by Brandy, McDonald and Murphy, who was fouled in the second minute and curled the free-kick into the arms of Bialkowski. Also in a bright start, Murphy curled wide after being presented with a chance by Labadie's mis-placed pass.

Notts County caused problems from their first corner, Long saving with his body after Haynes got a deft touch to an inswinger but there was controversy from the subsequent breakaway. From a Porter flick, McDonald looked to advance on goal but was caught by Liddle's high boot and referee Stroud immediately reached for his red card and presented it to the County defender.

McDonald recovered after treatment, immediately scuffing a shot, but County's ten-men reshaped and were lucky to survive a penalty shout when Leacock went through the back of Porter, who was looking to latch on to Westlake's cross. McGinn fired over on 25 minutes and Brandy was off target with a half-volley after Porter chested down.

However, United's early dominance was rewarded on the half hour, courtesy of a sweet move. A few passes resulted in Brandy feeding Westlake on the right and his low cross was met perfectly by McDONALD, who swept the ball home before Bialkowski could move. The Kop, naturally, were delighted the first goal of the whole season was scored in front of them.

The visitors hit back with their best chance of the half but Labadie, despite wriggling free to latch on to Sheehan's free-kick, headed wide, whilst United were quickly back on the offensive with Brandy and Doyle efforts before the interval.

United began the second period well, with Doyle and McDonald shooting from the edge of the box, and Blades fans thought that a penalty was on the way when Brandy appeared to be fouled by Arquin but the referee penalised the home side and, to add insult, Brandy was booked for speaking out of turn.

Porter had two chances to extend the lead. He clipped just over the crossbar after Brandy's pace got the better of Fotheringham on the left and then the number nine was unable to touch home at the back post after Collins had fired back into the danger area from a Murphy corner.

County made two substitutions before the hour mark and they immediately paid dividends. It was one of the replacements, SHOWUNMI, who held off Maguire to receive Bialkowski's kick before turning and smashing into the bottom corner of Long's net from 20 yards.

McGinn fired over from range and Weir threw on his first two substitutions, McFadzean and Taylor, in the space of two minutes - and in between the Blades regained the lead. On 67 minutes, McGinn swung in a deep free-kick from the right and MAGUIRE was ideally placed at the back post to head home.

McDonald's attempted curler from the edge of the box was blocked but the Blades lost skipper Doyle on 79 minutes to injury, he was applauded as he limped off and was replaced by debutant Coady. As the final ten minutes approached Taylor's first shot was a 30 yard free-kick which Bialkowski parried away.

A 35-yard volley from Fotheringham caused a nervous time on 87 minutes but the Blades had further chances to secure the victory in the final moments, which included five extra minutes. Brandy was denied by Bialkowski after Westlake's pull back, Taylor's shot was blocked and Coady, after another neat Westlake pass, curled just wide with the outside of his right foot.

Also in added time Taylor just failed to get on a shot across goal by Westlake but the Blades maintained possession well late on to secure a deserved victory.

Blades: Long, Westlake, Williams, Maguire, Doyle (Coady 79), Porter (Taylor 68), McDonald, McGinn, Collins, Brandy, Murphy (McFadzean 66).
Unused: Howard, Hill, Flynn, McGinty.

Notts County: Bialkowski, Dumbuya, Sheehan, Liddle, Leacock, Haynes (Zoko 66), Arquin (Showunmi 61), Labadie (Tempest 58), Campbell-Ryce, Fotheringham, Boucard.
Unused: Smith, Coombes, Thompson, Spiess.