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Northampton 1-1 Blades - report

22 July 2014

United's second pre-season outing saw an improved display.

Following the defeat to Burton Albion, the Blades upped the tempo in Tuesday night's friendly fixture at Northampton Town.

New boy Andy Butler scored United's first pre-season goal, glancing in a Ben Davies cross, but a second half penalty ensured spoils were shared.

United's starting XI included two trialists - Scotsman Robbie Crawford, who featured at Burton on Saturday, and former Chelsea defender Adam Nditi, who was born in Tanzania. The duo started together on the left.

Before kick-off boss Clough declared his intention to give his starting team 60-70 minutes each with others having similar minutes in Friday's home fixture with Dundee.

A number of players missed out with minor niggling problems, whilst a selection of Academy prospects, including Northern Irish striker Jamie McDonagh, were included in the squad at Sixfields.

Northampton's team, in addition, featured a number of familiar faces. Boss Chris Wilder, goalkeeper Matt Duke, defender Evan Horwood and midfield Jonjo O'Toole all have Blades links.

Within 90 seconds, the Blades worked a chance but Porter headed over a Davies free-kick and then, less than six minutes in, Crawford's night was over, succumbing to a hip injury following an aerial challenge.

Porter went close from another Davies set-piece and Northampton's first effort, from Mohamed, was deflected narrowly wide. The early action was frantic with United shading it - the reward arrived after 27 minutes. A foul on Nditi presented a free-kick and from a Davies inswinger, BUTLER added the slightest of touches at the back post.

Long collected a cross destined for O'Toole as the Blades defence was put under a little pressure but the better offensive options were coming from the visitors. Porter won another header but could not direct towards goal and Reed tried his luck with a half-volley from 35 yards but Duke was well positioned.

As per the pre-match plan, the second half began with the personnel that ended the first and the action did not really ignite until close to the hour mark when Long raced off his line and then had to hold up Richards, there were no arguments over the award of a penalty. RICHARDS and O'Toole both wanted to take the spot kick but the former took charge and placed under Long's dive to level the scores.

Clough made three changes just after the hour, quickly followed by another three, and expectedly, the fluidity suffered for a spell and Butler was forced to block from O'Toole, whilst Sinclair headed over.

The last three changes arrived on 68 minutes, meaning Davies was the only Blade to play a full game. Baxter fired over after good work by youngsters Paling and McDonagh

Chances were limited as the game entered the final ten minutes although the Blades continued to look lively. The best of the late action saw Basham make a good run to meet a Harris cross but he could not steer the ball towards Duke's goal.

Seconds before the final whistle McDonagh curled wide but United could not collect that first win of the 2014-15 campaign.

Northampton: Duke, Alfei, Robertson, Diamond, Collins, Hackett, Ravenhill, Carter, Mohamed, O'Toole, Richards.
Subs: Tozer, Snedker, Langmead, Sinclair, Moyo, Roberts, Nicholls, Horwood.

Blades: Long (Howard 68), Davies, McGahey (Maguire 68), Butler (Alcock 68), Nditi (Harris 61), Campbell-Ryce (McDonagh 65), McGinn (Basham 61), Doyle (Dimaio 61), Reed (Scougall 65), Crawford (Paling 6), Porter (Baxter 65).

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