After a good run in Scotland which saw them beat Greenock Morton (1-0) and Raith Rovers (2-1) and drawing to Cowdenbeath (1-1) the Blades returned to England where they scalped wins over Bury (3-1) and now Mansfield Town (1-0) before they face Greek side Atromitos at the Lane next Friday and York City away the following day. In fact United haven’t lost a pre-season friendly match since 26 July 2011 when Doncaster Rovers recorded a 1-0 reverse at Bramall Lane.
But at Field Mill yesterday the Blades continued a great pre-season under new manager David Weir and won by a solitary goal from one of his new signings; Febian Brandy who notched his first goal in a United shirt since signing from Walsall.
The goal came early on in the match, as early as the third minute when he found the net at the near post after Darryl Westlake crossed from the right.
691 fans turned up from Sheffield which made up almost half of the 1,912 crowed at Field Mill who witnessed Lyle Taylor make his debut since arriving from Falkirk last week – played in the final 30 minutes of the game after replacing Chris Porter in attack.
George Long, who had been in action for the England U20’s in the summer, was given a run out for the first time with United in pre-season whilst Mark Howard sat on the bench. Despite United taking the lead early doors it was the Stags who got off the mark and showed precedence upfront – within 15 seconds Long saw a shot from Howell drift past his post.
But this didn’t deter the visitors and Jamie Murphy tested the home stopper before Brandy made his mark. Midfielder McDonald found Westlake on the right and his acute cross found the former Manchester United trainee who escaped his marker which went through the keepers’ legs and into the net.
Marriott in the Stags goal was called into action once again to prevent Murphy’s free-kick and Brandy’s effort from rustling the net. Porter came close to adding to his pre-season tally but the keeper again was on hand after he had been put through by the busy McDonald.
The Mansfield keeper was in the thick of it and kept busy in the first half – he was called upon again via another Murphy effort whilst the Scotman looked to finally get his goal but on 34 minutes his shot deflected wide before Porter headed wide from Westlake’s cross.
Captain Michael Doyle was denied and at the other end Marcus Williams cleaned up, preventing former Sheffield United Academy player Jake Speight connecting with a Rhead pass.
In the second half it was the Blades who came tumbling out of the starting blocks first and their first move almost created a goal, McDonald – not the prolific of goal scorers fired wide after being laid off by Brandy. On the hour mark Taylor was given his first chance whilst Jasper Johns who scored in the friendly at Bury both entered the field.
Efforts from McGuire which was tipped over by Long and Dyer hit a free-kick over the bar as the hosts slowly came into the game. He then kept out Stevenson as United hung on. The second half failed to see United as fluent in attack as they were in the first but efforts from new boys Johns and Taylor were kept out by the keeper but despite Long keeping out Dyer towards the end the win never looked in doubt.
Mansfield Town: Marriott, Beevers, Black, Dempster, McCombe, Murtagh, Speight, Clucas, Daniel, Howell, Rhead. Subs: Riley, McGuire, Dyer, Meikle, Hutchinson, Stevenson, Clements, Pilkington, Sutton, Tafazolli, Murray, Arnold.
Sheffield United: Long, Westlake, Maguire, Collins, Williams, McGinn, Doyle (Whitehouse 81), McDonald, Brandy (McFadzean 76), Murphy (Johns 59), Porter (Taylor 59). Unused: Howard, Whitehouse, Hill, McGinty.