Gillingham 0-1 Blades - report
A workmanlike performance with no shortage of professionalism earned United three points on the road at Gillingham on Wednesday night.
The Blades backed up the FA Cup success with a first away league win of 2014.
Conor Coady's goal - his second of the week - decided the encounter late in the first half.
United's proposed line-up included a late amendment. After signing on loan for the remainder of the season, Davies was originally named in the starting line-up but traffic problems after completing the paperwork on his switch earlier in the day meant he was forced to take a place on the bench - Harris stepped up to start.
In total there were four changes to the Blades team that reached the FA Cup quarter-finals at the weekend. Hill, McGinn, Porter and Paynter all started, with Baxter, Scougall and Murphy dropping to the bench and Brayford missing out due to a minor knock.
The personnel suggested so, but it was clear soon after kick-off that United were adopting a 3-5-2 formation. Hill, Maguire and Collins were the defensive trio with Flynn and Harris on the flanks. The central midfield three was Coady, McGinn and Doyle with Paynter and Porter providing the power in attack.
Flynn looked bright on the right in the early stages but the only chances in the first 10 minutes fell to the home side. After a cross was half-cleared, Smith's shot from the edge of the box was saved by Howard, low to his left, whilst good hold up play by Akinfenwa presented an opportunity for Inniss, who fired across goal and just wide.
United's first chance, on 21 minutes, saw Porter bundle home a Harris cross but the striker was adjudged offside before he touched the ball over the line. Maguire was cautioned for a lunge on Smith but the Blades were soon back on the attack and a volley from Doyle looked to be heading towards goal before hitting a defender. A 25-yard Harris free-kick was also on target but straight at goalkeeper Nelson.
There was a scare for the Blades when Harriman's free-kick was flicked on by Akinfenwa and the ball landed on the roof of the net before the deadlock was broken... at the other end.
With Inniss on the deck, playing everyone onside, United's prolonged attack ended in a goal. From a Harris cross, Porter's effort struck the crossbar but Flynn recycled play and COADY drilled home at Nelson's near post.
The remainder of the half saw Gillingham vent their frustrations at the officials, unhappy that a number of decisions did not go their way.
Early in the second half a run from Coady and Porter's lay off presented an opportunity for Doyle, but his shot from the edge of the box was over, whilst for Gillingham Linganzi was also off target.
Two Harris corners caused problems for Gillingham around the hour mark. From the first, Maguire was given time to control and shoot but his effort hit one of a number of defenders blocking the path to goal and the second saw Paynter's shot kicked off the line.
Clough used all three of his allotted changes in the space of ten minutes. Murphy replaced Paynter and went central to support Porter and the second change saw Davies handed his debut, taking over from Flynn, who put in a hefty shift on the right. The last sub, with little over ten minutes remaining, was Baxter replacing Porter.
Gillingham attempted to pepper United's box late on and they stepped up the pace. A long Nelson free-kick was flicked on by Legge but Howard collected. Defender Legge also went close from a corner on 88 minutes but he flicked Whelpdale's corner wide.
United's work rate could not be questioned and the four minutes of added time was negotiated with a calm air of professionalism to secure three very welcome points.
Gillingham: Nelson, Martin, Linganzi (Weston 73), Akinfenwa, McDonald, Gregory, Dack, Smith (Whelpdale 64), Harriman, Inniss (Legge 41), Barrett.
Unused: Fagan, Hessenthaler, Pigott, S. Baxter.
Blades: Howard, Harris, Maguire, Hill, Flynn (Davies 73), Doyle, Porter, McGinn, Collins, Coady, Paynter (Murphy 69).
Unused: J. Baxter, Miller, Scougall, Long, Kennedy.