Notts County earned a hard fought point away at Sheffield United on Friday night.
Mike Edwards had put the Magpies ahead midway through the first half, tapping in from close range after a fantastic Gary Jones corner.
Stephen McLaughlin had an excellent chance to put Notts two ahead, but he was closed down well as his shot was deflected wide.
With 15 minutes mto go Jamie Murphy rose well to head a ball beyond Carroll to level the game.
The home side continued to pile on the pressure but Notts held on for an excellent away point.
Magpies’ manager Shaun Derry made two changes to the side that lost 2-1 to Yeovil at Meadow Lane last weekend. Mustapha Dumbuya made his return to the first eleven since returning from international duty with Sierra Leone, he replaced Curtis Thompson at right-back. Also in the side was Jordan Cranston, who took the place of Blair Adams. Gary Jones retained his place in the starting line-up, after his appeal was upheld following the sending off last weekend against Yeovil.
On the bench for Notts County was new signing Ryan Hall, who featured in the match day squad for the first time, following his loan move from Rotherham on Thursday. Alongside him, Louis Laing was back in the squad after an injury that had kept him out the side since the end of October.
In the starting eleven for Sheffield United was Jamal Campbell-Ryce, who moved to Bramall Lane from the Magpies over the summer.
During the opening stages of the game, neither side managed to take control of the game, but the Magpies were looking promising early on. Garry Thompson played a ball over Bob Harris for Mustapha Dumbuya to run onto. The right-back eventually carving out some space for himself, but his cross only glanced off the head of Jake Cassidy before Mark Howard claimed with ease.
Sheffield United concerned the Notts County defence with ten minutes gone. A shot from the right on the edge of the area was deflected off a Notts player, guiding into the path of Jamie Murphy, who had plenty of space in the Magpies box. The initial shot was too powerful for Murphy to control however, as the ball bounced off the left winger and out for a goal kick.
The away side weren’t fazed by this however, giving Howard cause for concern down the other end. Stephen McLaughlin had the ball on the left and was fouled by Chris Basham. The ball found its way to Michael Petrasso as they referee allowed advantage to be played, but Petrasso couldn’t work enough space for himself and his shot wasn’t hard enough to give Howard too many problems.
Michael Higdon, Jose Baxter and Jay McEveley all had chances to put the home side ahead. Baxter’s shot was well blocked by the Notts defence, whilst McEveley and Higdon had headers that didn’t cause Roy Carroll and problems at all.
Gary Jones was next in the green and yellow to force Howard into a save. A clearance from the goalkeeper landed for the midfielder just inside the Notts half. He controlled well and made a run for goal. Options were available left and right, but he only had eyes for goal, as he unleashed a shot from the edge of the area. Howard parried, but no one was there to follow up as it was cleared.
Jamal Campbell-Ryce was giving a few problems down the right for Sheffield United, on a number of occasions putting dangerous crosses into the box. A cross from the right on the 28th minute was a dangerous one, but Notts got bodies in the way, deflecting the shot wide. A counter attack materialised from the set-piece, McLaughlin getting away down the right. The home side defended well to deny the Forest loanee from getting away.
Minutes later and Notts County had taken a deserved lead. Jordan Cranston down the left had broken the offside trap before trying to whip a cross into the box, but Campbell-Ryce blocked it for a corner. Gary Jones stepped over the corner and eventually took it after complaints from the home support about where he had placed the ball. The corner floated over to the back post, deceiving the entire box, apart from Mike Edwards, who was there in acres of spaces to finish the ball home and give Notts County the lead.
The Blades didn’t sit back and went straight back at the Magpies, winning a freekick on the edge of the area after Mike Edwards fouled Jamie Murphy. The goal scorer received a yellow card for his tackle. Jose Baxter and Jay McEveley stood over it, but McEveley was the one to hit it, as he went for power, but the wall did their job to ensure Roy Carroll didn’t have anything to do. The rebound fell to Joes Baxter, but his shot was hurried wide of the goal.
Despite being four minutes of added time, nothing significant was created during the final stages of the first half. Notts looked comfortable throughout the team, as Sheffield United passed the ball between themselves within their defence, meaning the Magpies went in at the break a goal ahead.
HT: Sheffield United 0 - 1 Notts County
The Magpies got the second half underway, but it was Sheffield United to get the first opportunity following the break. Jose Baxter picked up the ball on the edge of the area and went for goal. His shot was blocked and went out for a corner. It was the same man to take the corner, but on two occasions Gary Jones was there to head the ball clear for Notts.
The next chance again came from the home side. Campbell-Ryce on the right tried to get beyond Jordan Cranston, but the left-back stood strong to deny him space. The former Notts winger did manage to get a shot away, and a deflection from Cranston forced Carroll to make a smart stop at his near post to keep Notts ahead.
The home side kept coming, first Jamie Murphy who deceived Haydn Hollis which made space for himself, but his shot was very easy for Carroll to collect. Next, Stefan Scougall tried his luck from distance but the strike was well blocked. Then it was Jose Baxter, who ballooned his shot way over the bar from the edge of the area.
With 25 minutes still to play, Roy Carroll had to produce the best save of the evening. The ball was whipped in from the right by Campbell-Ryce and Chris Basham was waiting in the six-yard box for a free header. He got a head to the ball, but Carroll got down excellently to deny the United player.
Both sides made changes as there was little in the way of changes going into the final 20 minutes of the game. A foul by Stephen McLaughlin on Jamie Murphy gave Sheffield United a sight on goal. Bob Harris’ freekick was cleared however which sent substitute Ronan Murray clear. Murray skipped past a challenge and laid the ball back for Dumbuya who was there in support. Dumbuya played across to McLaughlin who was in the clear in the Sheffield box. It appeared he had too much time to think about it as his shot was closed down quickly and out for a corner.
With 15 minutes left to go, Sheffield’s pressure paid off as they equalised. A ball was whipped in from a wide area and Murphy ghosted into the six yard box and headed beyond Carroll to level the game.
Not buoyed by this, Notts made another attacking change, bringing on Ryan Hall for Garry Thompson, giving Hall his first appearance after joining on Thursday.
It was nervy stuff going into the final stages of the game. Sheffield United were throwing men forward to try and find a winner. Campbell-Ryce again showing skill down the right before drilling crosses into the box, Hollis and Edwards doing all they can to protect Roy Carroll and his goal. The Magpies were trying to get the ball clear and hold it up in United’s half, but it was a difficult task with Sheffield’s defence staying strong.
Five minutes were announced for added time, and Sheffield did have one more chance to get all three points. A ball was whipped in from the right, but Carroll got there first, and held onto the ball. That was the last chance as Notts held on for a fantastic away point.
FT: Sheffield United 1 - 1 Notts County