Saturday, 28 July 2018

Game by Game - 3

A balmy Friday night, lakeside in Doncaster is not on everyone's bucket list, but Jon Bradley was one of nearly 2,000 Blades fans to make the short trip to see the first team's pre-season schedule come to a close.  

Pre-Season Friendly: Doncaster Rovers (A), 0-2

Nothing quite like a local derby, in the loosest of terms, to end preseason in style.  As the Blades travelled to Doncaster, it was the supporters last opportunity to see their beloved Blades before the curtain goes up on the new season.  The pre-match chat was littered with suggestions of signings that people thought were the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle. Everyone from Josh Windass to Ben Woodburn were mentioned but, for me, it could be one from leftfield. We all know Wilder may well pull a proverbial rabbit out of the hat and surprise us all with who comes in before the window slams shut.

United lined up in usual fashion, but with a midfield of Lundstram, Duffy and Holmes it was always going to be an interesting game without our main man Fleck in the middle of the park. He had been the lynchpin and all that was good in our pre-season to date. The back three also saw a slight reshuffle, with Egan and O'Connell joined by Stearman, rather than Basham.  It was evident Wilder was giving everyone the chance to stake a claim for a place against Swansea next Saturday.

United stroked it around with purpose in the first half but, as we have become quite accustomed to seeing in some games in recent memory, we looked very laboured in the final third.  The most noteworthy chance came when O'Connell produced a crunching challenge on the halfway line which gave Duffy the opportunity to play in Clarke, which materialised in very little.  

The most noteworthy mention though has to go to Simon Moore.  Moore produced four outstanding saves in the half, including two in quick succession.  Proving that there is a lot more he can offer the club this season than the pleasant way he spoke about us, following the signing of his new contract on Thursday.

As the second half started Holmes looked full of energy and purpose yet went down too easily for my liking.  But it was the introduction of McGoldrick which proved to be the much-needed spark for United on the hour.  A neat move saw him jinx in the box before pulling his shot wide. This was followed by a perfect chance for him at the far post where he couldn't have hit it truer but, unfortunately for the Blades latest signing, it hit the side netting.

Moments later the Blades had the ball in the net as Norrington-Davies crossed for McGoldrick who slid in to poke the ball home.  At 1-0 Doncaster huffed and puffed, but to little avail.  This allowed McGoldrick and United to break quickly and the scorer turned provider as McGoldrick weighted a perfect pass for Sharp to do what he does best and double the Blades lead.  Lavery went close late on but proved what we all already know, that he just isn't quite good enough for where we are now as a club.

As the heavens opened United finished their preseason campaign undefeated and any Doncaster based Blades had some very tentative bragging rights to take to the pub or into work on Monday.

Three final thoughts:

Dean Henderson had better be ready to fight for the number 1 jersey as Moore certainly showed a desire to push the loanee all the way.

McGoldrick is a different striker to what we have had for a while. He has the ability to link the play and the thought of him and Duffy striking up a relationship gives me a very warm feeling inside.

Despite the ongoing uncertainty behind the scenes, the supporters played their part and at the end of the game made it clear to the new signings that there is nothing equivocal about the love between players and fans in this group.

Photo Copyright: Paul McDonald

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