Notts County 1-4 Blades - report
The Blades are one step closer to a Wembley final after a crushing win at Meadow Lane in the second round of the Johnstone Paint Trophy.
Shaun Miller netted a well taken double either side of half-time, his first goals in United colours, whilst Harry Maguire opened his seasonal account with a brace in front of the live Sky cameras. The only blemish on the evening was Jordan Stewart's late consolation for Keith Curle's men.
Danny Wilson's men now face a trip to Coventry City in the Northern-Area Quarter-Finals. The tie is scheduled to be played during the first week of December.
Boss Wilson made a total of five changes for the JPT tie at Notts County. Westlake, Porter, Miller, Harriott and Chapell all started, with McMahon, Kitson, Cofie, Blackman and McDonald rested. Jean-Francois was on the bench for the first time since recovering from a cruciate knee ligament injury and he was joined by youngsters Tonne, Philliskirk, Ironside and goalkeeper Willis.
The opening ten minutes saw little in the way of goalscoring opportunities. United's first meaningful attack came when Miller turned Bencherif to win a corner, but from Flynn's inswinging centre Showunmi headed clear. At the other end Jeff Hughes headed wide from Arquin's right-wing cross.
United were thankful to the agility of Long in the 22nd minute, Westlake fouled Zoko and from Sheehan's free-kick Showunmi nodded goalwards only for the young stopper to produce a smart reflex save diving to his left. Two minutes later the Blades took the lead with a swift move forward. Harriott fed Westlake on the right and from his ball forward Porter produced an excellent flick on to the unmarked MILLER who volleyed home confidently from inside the penalty area.
Porter and Miller starting for the first time since the Capital One Cup tie against Burton Albion in August continued to look dangerous for the visitors, but it took a timely save from Long to preserve United's advanatge. Bencherif crossed to the back post and Hughes towered above Westlake only to see his goal bound header excellently flicked over the bar. Moments later Maguire was across smartly to deny Showunmi a sight of goal.
With the final kick of the first-half United doubled their lead to take a firm grip of the game. Miller found some space on the right and from his cross Bialkowski had to get down quickly to tip Flynn's stinging drive round the post. The winger's corner wasn't dealt with by Arquin at the near post and MAGUIRE lost his marker to apply the finishing touch from close range despite the best efforts of County's number one. The refere blew his whistle to signal half-time as the Blades celebrated.
The Magpies signalled their intent at the break by introuducing Lee Hughes and Campbell-Ryce to replace Mahon and Showunmi, but it was the Blades who had the first sight of goal when Doyle fired wide from long-range after good work by Flynn.
United continued to press forward and went a long way to making sure of their place in the next round when MILLER rifled home his second at the back post in the 52nd minute after the home side again failed to deal with a Flynn corner.
In the 54th minute it was four, in slightly bizzare circumstances. MAGUIRE picked up the loose ball on the right wing and his deep ball into the box caught out Bialkowski and dipped into the net with the aid of the woodwork. Long continued to excel at the other end saving superbly from Arquin.
With 23 minutes remaining the home side missed a golden chance to reduce the arears, Jeff Hughes failed to convert at the back post with the goal at his mercy. For the Blades, Westlake powered forward in search of a fifth but his effort was blocked by Liddle.
The hosts finally got some reward and pulled a goal back in the 75th minute when former Blade STEWART nicked the ball off HIll before curling home a left-footed strike giving Long no chance. Wilson reacted by replacing Chapell with Jean-Francois, who on his first apperarance in over nine months, recieved a generous round of applause from the 483 Unitedites who had made the trip down the M1.
In the latter stages County went in search of another goal and Lee Hughes somehow missed from close-range after evading the attentions of Westlake. Wilson gave Ironside his senior debut in the final minutes, with Philliskirk also getting a taste of first-team action late on as the Blades saw out four minutes of injury time without any alarm.
County: Bialkowski, Stewart, Bencherif, Sheehan, Liddle, Mahon (Campbell-Ryce 45), J Hughes, Boucaud, Showunmi (L. Hughes 45), Zoko, Arquin (Nangle 75).
Unused: Pilkington, Dixon.
Blades: Long, Westlake, Maguire, Hill, Flynn, Doyle, Porter (Ironside 89), Miller (Philliskirk 81), Harriott, Chapell (Jean-Francois 76), Williams.
Unused: Tonne, Willis.