Blades 1-1 Notts County - report
Friday night's fifth v sixth clash in Sky Bet League One was understandably a close affair.
United were below par in the first half but recovered to earn a point in the second half against a Notts County team unbeaten on the road this season.
Mike Edwards opened the scoring for Notts but Jamie Murphy levelled with 14 minutes remaining.
Chief Clough made two changes with Higdon and Campbell-Ryce returning to the starting line-up as Alcock missed out and Flynn dropped to the bench. Also amongst the substitutes were McNulty, Adams and Kieran Wallace, the latter two recently signed from Ilkeston. O'Grady, signed on Thursday, was left out due to injury.
Who would fill the right-back role would have been question for a number of fans ahead of kick-off but it was soon clear that Basham would fill in - Baxter dropped into midfield to allow Higdon to lead the front line.
Basham was involved quite a lot early on. He linked up with Campbell-Ryce on a couple of occasions and drilled in a cross which was too powerful for Murphy on nine minutes. The new right-back was also involved in a mix-up with Howard which presented Notts with their first chance but Petrasso's shot at the Blades goalkeeper was weak.
Chances were severely limited in the opening half hour, McEveley's header was easy for Carroll and Howard gathered at the second attempt after Jones was allowed to run at the Blades defence.
Scougall's tracking back was applauded on a couple of occasions but a set-piece opened United up and handed Notts the lead on 31 minutes. Jones delayed his corner but his flat delivery to the back post beat Howard and EDWARDS netted with a calm side-foot volley from close range.
Following the vital goal, Notts were happy to sit bodies behind the ball and make it particularly hard for United to make inroads. The only other chance of note was a free-kick on 38 minutes but a smash from McEveley struck the wall and the rebound from Baxter was wide.
With boss Clough's half-time words ringing in their ears, the Blades started the second period on the front foot. Campbell-Ryce tried to catch out Carroll at the front post and Baxter could not get on the end of Higdon's head down. Murphy put Hollis on the back foot but the subsequent shot was at Carroll and, on 58 minutes, Baxter curled over from the edge of the box.
On 64 minutes the Blades went close again when Campbell-Ryce's cross found Basham unmarked but his header was clawed away by Carroll. A double change with 20 minutes to go saw Flynn and McNulty replace Doyle and Higdon.
A couple of opportunities were then instrumental in the space of a couple of minutes. On the break, Dumbuya found McLaughlin in acres of space in the middle of the goal but McEveley raced across and made a decisive block and within minutes the Blades were level. Harris delivered from the left and MURPHY's deftest of touches with his head beat Carroll.
Despite the goal, Notts continued their tactic of slowing the game down and United remained the offensive force. Baxter and McNulty linked up but Scougall's shot hit the legs of Carroll and Reed replaced the tiring Baxter with five minutes to go.
With the visitors tiring, McNulty's flicked header from Flynn's cross was wide and five minutes of added time was a more pleasing sight for Blades fans. However, with Notts content to continue to slow the action down, the only chance of note came from Reed and Murphy linking up but Flynn was unable to find the target and the referee's whistle followed soon after.
Blades: Howard, Harris, Basham, Doyle (Flynn 69), Murphy, Scougall, Baxter (Reed 85), McEveley, Campbell-Ryce, Higdon (McNulty 69), McCarthy.
Unused: McGahey, Turner, Adams, K. Wallace.
Notts County: Carroll, Dumbuya, Hollis, G. Thompson (Hall 79), Cassidy, Jones, Noble, Edwards, McLaughlin, Cranston (C. Thompson 66), Petrasso (Murray 62).
Unused: Smith, Spiess, Traore, Laing.