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Report: Stags 0-1 Blades

20 July 2013

Febian Brandy’s third-minute strike earned Sheffield United a comfortable 1-0 victory over Mansfield Town at One Call Stadium.

Brandy finished after being put through by Daryl Westlake, as the League One side looked good value for their victory.

Despite several days of glorious sunshine in North Nottinghamshire, weather conditions were almost perfect for this match.

Dark clouds, which lingered above One Call Stadium, kept the sun hidden from view, whilst a light breeze significantly cooled the sweltering temperatures of previous days.

The Stags, who attacked towards the North Stand in the first period, got proceedings underway and almost made a dramatic start inside the opening minute.

Matt Rhead took advantage of some hesitant defending, and unleashed a low, speculative strike that drifted narrowly wide of George Long’s right-hand post.

However, in the third minute, United made an early breakthrough as Westlake’s low cut-back was tucked away by Brandy at close range.

Jamie Murphy also curled a free-kick into the arms of Alan Marriott, whilst Brandy came close again as the visitors enjoyed a dominant first quarter-of-an-hour.

Ryan Tafazolli replaced John McCombe at centre-back in an early change, but The Stags struggled to see much of the ball as The Blades retained possession well.

David Weir’s side looked slick, sharp and bright on the ball and would have doubled their lead on the half-hour mark, had it not been for Marriott.

Chris Porter’s powerful 20-yard drive was expertly tipped over the woodwork, after Westlake’s cross-field ball found him lurking inside the area.

The lively Murphy saw a low effort deflected wide just two minutes later, before an unmarked Porter headed over from the resulting corner.

Stags’ manager Paul Cox rung the changes at the break as Nathan Arnold, Amari Morgan-Smith, Adam Murray, George Pilkington and Lee Stevenson were all introduced.

Nevertheless, United still looked the more dominant of the two teams, and it seemed only a matter of time before they would double their advantage.

On 56 minutes, Marriott watched on agonisingly when Brandy found Murphy lurking unmarked inside the area, who subsequently curled his left-footed shot wide.

Substitute Jamie McGuire finally registered the hosts’ first attempt-on-target on the hour mark, when his low 20-yard strike had to be palmed away by Long.

Mansfield seemed to be spurred on by this attack, and with the One Call Stadium crowd having found their voices, Morgan-Smith soon flashed a set-piece effort just over.

At last, The Stags were seeing the ball with far more frequency, and Long was dramatically called into action again midway through the second period.

Meikle weaved his way down the inside-right to the by-line, where his intricate pull-back was blasted goalwards by Stevenson, forcing Long into a smart reaction stop.

As precious minutes slowly ebbed away, The Blades could have sealed victory late on when Brandy’s vicious swerving 20-yard attempt was straight at Marriott.

Morgan-Smith then came within inches of latching onto Meikle’s through ball, but Long raced from his goal-line in order to make a timely intervention.

And the South Yorkshire side held on to earn their fourth win in five pre-season outings.

Attendance: 1,912 (691)

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