Blades 0-0 Tranmere - report
Saturday's third v first fixture failed to live up to expectation as the Blades and Tranmere played out a goal-less draw.
After two 1-1 draws between the teams last season, the result was hardly surprising.
Tony McMahon came closest for the Blades, forcing Tranmere goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams into a first half save.
McMahon returned to the starting line-up after injury and Williams also received a recall. McDonald, of course, missed out through injury, whilst Westlake dropped to the bench, where he was joined by Kitson and Cresswell. The personnel on view would have had fans guessing to the make up of the midfield but it was soon clear that Flynn was partnering Doyle in the centre with Williams playing in front of Hill on the left.
The visitors made the brighter start, former Blades loanee O'Halloran had an early run down the right and Robinson's free-kick struck a well-structured wall. United's first opportunity was from a breakaway but Blackman's shot was over after he cut inside.
United weathered the early onslaught but a number of mistakes by both teams - and the officials - ensured the encounter, as a spectacle, was lacking somewhat, although with 18 minutes gone, McMahon's long-range effort was pushed around a post by Fon Williams.
McGurk's 35-yard free-kick on 33 minutes was just wide but the end of the period was littered with fouls, again interupting the flow as both teams as they looked to assert themselves.
An effort from McGurk flew over the crossbar early in the second half and a Cassidy long-ranger was deflected wide, whilst as Tranmere again made the better start, Robinson's free-kick clipped the netting but Long did not look troubled.
There was a cheer from the home fans when Kitson returned from injury, replacing Porter just after the hour, whilst soon after McAllister took the place of Williams with Flynn moving out to the left.
Tranmere's Max Power caught a first-timer with max power but his shot was always rising over the crossbar and on 75 minutes Doyle made a chance for Miller, whose shot on the turn was deflected into the arms of Fon Williams.
The length of time that Robinson took to leave the field signalled that Tranmere had settled for a point, although Cassidy had an effort on 78 minutes. For the Blades, Blackman was unable to trouble Fon Williams after going around the outside of Bakayogo.
Three minutes of added time was announced but there was little to report as both sides picked up a point to continue the promotion challenge.
Blades: Long, Maguire, Hill, Flynn, Doyle, Porter (Kitson 63), Blackman, Miller, Collins, McMahon, Williams (McAllister 74).
Unused: Westlake, Cresswell, Cofie, McFadzean, Coyne.
Tranmere: Fon Williams, Holmes, Taylor, Goodison, Palmer, Cassidy, Robinson (Thompson 75), McGurk, Bakayogo, Power, O'Halloran.
Unused: Black, Harrison, Stockton, Kay, Daniels, Mooney.