Aug 2, 2013 at 7.45pm UK at ​Bramall Lane
Sheff UtdSheffield United
2-1
Notts County
McDonald (30'), Maguire (67')
Brandy (47')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Showunmi (59')
Labadie (37'), Fotheringham (51')
Liddle (12')

Live Commentary: Sheffield United 2-1 Notts County - as it happened

Sheffield United's Harry McGuire celebrates with teammates after a goal against Notts County on August 2, 2013
© Getty Images
Relive Sports Mole's coverage of the Football League's 2013-14 curtain raiser as Sheffield United took on Notts County.

Sheffield United kicked off the brand new Football League season with a 2-1 win over 10-man Notts County this evening.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men in the 13th minute as Gary Liddle was given his marching orders for a reckless challenge on Kevin McDonald.

McDonald was also involved in the other major event of the first half, finishing off a fluid United move to give his side the lead on the half hour mark.

Notts County equalised out of the blue in the 59th minute when Enoch Showunmi fired in from range just two minutes after coming on as a sub.

They were level for less than 10 minutes, however, as Harry Maguire headed the Blades back into the lead having been left unmarked at the back post.

You can read how an action-packed 90 minutes unfolded with Sports Mole's live play-by-play coverage below.


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7pmGood evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for tonight's historic match between Sheffield United and Notts County as they kick off a new Football League season.

7.02pmFirst things first, let's all rejoice that competitive football is back! It has felt like a long summer without it and I'm sure that I'm not the only one happy to see it returning to our screens.

7.04pmPre-season matches can only quench a certain amount of thirst, and they certainly don't compare to regular league football. This is a notable year in the Football League too as it celebrates its 125th year. Happy anniversary Football League!

7.06pmIt is significant that this would be the first match of the 125th season as well. Notts County were one of the Football League's founding members and have played more matches in it than anyone else - a staggering 4,710 since it began way back in 1888. The Magpies are also the oldest professional club in the world, so there is plenty of history attached to Chris Kiwomya's side.

7.08pmIt is fitting, too, that Sheffield United should be their opponents. United themselves weren't founding members of the Football League, but the city plays host to the oldest football club - professional, semi-pro or amateur - in the world in Sheffield FC. Plenty of history attached to this fixture, then.

7.10pmFast forward to the present day, and there is a distinct lack of history for David Weir in the role he now finds himself in. Tonight will mark his competitive debut as a manager as he takes charge of Sheffield United. Weir was interviewed regarding the Everton job following David Moyes's departure having impressed with the club's reserve and youth teams, so United have every reason to feel optimistic with their new appointment.

7.12pmWeir's first job at Bramall Lane would have been to pick the players up after they were denied promotion via the playoffs for the second consecutive season. At one point they looked destined for automatic promotion, but a bad spell of form saw them finish fifth before being beaten by Yeovil Town in the playoff semis.

7.14pmOn the bright side, reaching the playoffs two years in a row - including an appearance in the final the season before last - does point to them being one of the best teams in the league. They will be eyeing an automatic promotion spot again this season, and it would be a surprise if they finished outside the top six.

7.16pmThey certainly come into the season in good form. They progressed through eight pre-season matches unbeaten, winning against the likes of Raith Rovers, Bury and Mansfield and drawing against Cowdenbeath, Atromitos and York.

7.18pmNotts County cannot boast an unbeaten record in pre-season, although it would be fair to say that their opponents were mostly of higher quality than Sheffield United's. They suffered defeats at the hands of Steaua Bucharest and Galatasaray, as well as drawing against Rayo Vallecano and Ipswich. They didn't go through the warm-up campign without winning, however. They emerged victorious against Pallosuera Kemi Kings, Tervarit Dream Team and JJK Jyvaskyla.

7.20pmThe Magpies will have ambitions of challenging for the playoffs this season, but it would be no surprise if they missed out. A 12th-placed finish for them last season was about right, and they may be looking at a similar position this season. They will have to keep one eye on the relegation zone - as every team from 12th downwards probably will - but they should be safe from the drop barring a nightmare campaign.

7.22pmTo give a little context as to Notts County's position in comparison to Sheffield United's last season, the Magpies finished 10 points behind the Blades. Certainly not an unassailable gap, but still big enough for United to enter tonight's match confident of walking away as the winners.

7.24pmTEAM NEWS: Right, it is about time I brought you some team news. The big stories surround debutants, of which there are five tonight. Sheffield United have named two - Stephen McGinn and Febian Brandy, while Notts County include new boys Mark Fotheringham, Danny Haynes and Mustapha Dumbuya in their lineup. Full team news coming right up.

7.26pmSHEFFIELD UNITED STARTING XI: Long; Westlake, Williams, Maguire, Doyle; Porter, McDonald, McGinn, Collins; Brandy, Murphy

7.27pmSHEFFIELD UNITED SUBS: Howard, Hill, Flynn, Taylor, Coady, McGinty, McFadzean

7.29pmNOTTS COUNTY STARTING XI: Bialkowski; Dumbuya, Sheehan, Liddle, Leacock; Haynes, Arquin, Labadie, Campbell-Ryce, Fotheringham; Boucaud

7.30pmNOTTS COUNTY SUBS: Smith, Showunmi, Zoko, Coombes, Thompson, Spiess, Tempest

7.32pmSo, who are the men to look out for tonight? Well, it will be interesting to see where the goals come from as far as the hosts are concerned. Their two top scorers from last season - Nick Blackman and Dave Kitson - are no longer with the club. They will be looking to new signing Febian Brandy, a 24-year-old who joined on a free transfer from Walsall, and Jamie Murphy, who only managed two goals in 19 appearances last season, to get on the scoresheet tonight.

7.34pmIn reserve they have Lyle Taylor, who is another new acquisition having joined from Falkirk for £220k. They also have Conor Coady on the bench, who is currently on loan to the club from Liverpool.

7.36pmAs for Notts County, Jamal Campbell-Ryce was one of their most potent goalscorers last season. He and Yoann Arquin topped the club's scoring charts, each netting on eight occasions. It isn't exactly a huge tally of goals, but United will still have to keep an eye on the pair.

7.38pmDanny Haynes will be eager to impress on his debut having joined from Charlton over the summer, while fellow debutants Fotheringham and Dumbuya, who come in from Ross County and Crawley Town respectively, will also be looking to make a good first impression.

7.40pmPREDICTION: Right, we're five minutes from kickoff at Bramall Lane, which means that it is time for a prediction! Opening games of seasons tend to be fairly nervy affairs, with neither side wanting to get off to a losing start. There will be plenty of optimism in the air - as there always is at the start of a new campaign - and I think the home advantage will help United in that sense. I'm going to go for a 2-0 win to the Blades.

7.42pmThe players are taking to field now as we near the beginning of another new season. There is a disappointing attendance here, but those who are present are still making a lot of noise.

7.44pmSpeaking of attendance, this match doesn't seem to grab the attention of the fans. Last season this fixture brought with it Notts County's lowest attendance of their entire campaign, with just 2,082 people travelling to Meadow Lane.

7.45pmNotts County will want a season of stability in this campaign. They have gone through managers willy nilly in the last few season, with none lasting an entire season since 2008-09.

0 minKICKOFF: Here we go then! Sheffield United get the new season underway!

1 minThe hosts have an early free kick in a very promising position. It is very central and around 27 yards out...

2 min...Murphy gets it up and over the wall and then back down again, but it is easy for Bialkowski to catch. Decent effort, but it was in no danger of beating the keeper.

4 minGood, positive start from the Blades as they take the game to Notts County early on. The visitors are struggling to get hold of the ball for any significant length of time at the moment as United dictate play.

6 minBrandy makes a bright run towards the area having been gifted the ball, and the debutant goes down under a challenge having darted into the box. The referee is having none of it, and quite rightly so. No complaints from Brandy, who I think knows that he went down too easily.

7 minNotts County aren't helping themselves at the moment. They give the ball away in their own half for the second time in as many minutes, gifting United an opportunity. Once again the Blades can't make the most of it, however, as Murphy looks caught in two minds before fluffing his shot harmlessly wide.

9 minMcDonald almost releases Brandy through on goal but the pass is slightly too long as the keeper comes out to collect. Immediately afterwards McDonald is on the end of a heavy challenge from Fotheringham, who is fortunate to escape without the first yellow card of the season.

11 minThe visitors have just started to settle in the last few minutes and, for the first time, are threatening in an attacking sense. In their latest foray forward a low cross by Jamal Campbell-Ryce is cleared behind for a corner.

13 minRED CARD! Gary Liddle (Notts County)

14 minTerrible start to the season for Gary Liddle as he is given his marching orders after less than 15 minutes! His boot was very high as he went for the ball and it ended up planted into the side of McDonald. It was a bad challenge, but Liddle made contact with the ball first and seemed to slip halfway through the tackle. I don't think there was any malice in the challenge and perhaps the referee could have exercised some leniency, but it is easy to see why he has shown a red card. It was a reckless challenge.

16 minJust before the red card Notts County very nearly took the lead from a corner. Haynes raced to the near post and glanced a header goalwards, only to be thwarted by a fine reaction stop by Long.

18 minGary Liddle played every single minute of Notts County's league campaign last season. I'm sure he would have liked to have kept that appearance streak up for longer than 15 minutes this season!

20 minPENALTY SHOUT! The home fans appeal as one as Porter goes down inside the box. The incident occurred off the ball as a cross came into the box, and Leacock is lucky to have got away with his challenge. His clumsy challenge prevented Porter going for the ball, and there was certainly contact between the two.

22 minThe ball is clipped into Murphy, who has picked up a good position inside the box. He tries to let the ball run across his body to take him past the defender, but it skims off the surface and goes out for a goal kick.

24 minSheffield United have been in control for the opening quarter of this match. They have enjoyed over 70% possession, but are yet to create a really good chance against the 10 men of Notts County.

25 minMurphy lays the ball off to McGinn, who takes a touch before lining up a shot from range. He leans back, however, and his shot ends up well over the bar. United are being restricted to long range efforts at the moment.

26 minBrandy loses the ball but shows great tenacity to win it back with a fine challenge. His next touch is too heavy and he leads into another challenge with his studs raised. He is lucky that the defender doesn't make a lot of the tackle as it looked like it could have been nasty.

28 minPorter chests a high ball down to Brandy, who adheres to the crowd's shouts of 'shooooot' by going for goal with an ambitious volley. He doesn't catch it right, however, and it trickles wide. Brandy has looked bright in this opening half hour or so.

29 minGOAL! Sheffield United 1-0 Notts County (Kevin McDonald)

30 minThere is the breakthrough! David Weir celebrates the first goal of the new Football League season and the first goal of his reign at Sheffield United. It is a well-worked goal, too. Brandy was again involved as he played Westlake in down the right flank, and the full-back put a first-time low cross towards the edge of the area. The Notts County defenders are statuesque as McDonald arrives with a late run into the box before firing the loose ball home. It wasn't the cleanest of strikes, but he won't care one bit.

32 minThat goal means that McDonald has already matched his goalscoring tally from the whole of last season. The midfielder has been heavily involved in this match so far and deserves the goal.

34 minThe away fans want a red card for Neil Collins as his leg connects with Danny Haynes's face. To the travelling support there would be little difference between that one and the one that saw Liddle sent off, but the referee was right to award a free kick and nothing else.

36 minCHANCE! Big chance for Notts County from the resulting free kick! The ball is floated in to the far post and Labadie has got the wrong side of his marker. He tries a diving header under little pressure with just the keeper to beat, but he doesn't connect right and it goes wide. He should have at least tested Long there.

38 minYELLOW CARD! Not a great couple of minutes for Labadie as he picks up the first yellow card of the match for a rash challenge. The midfielder's frustration at missing that chance was clear to see there.

39 minUnited are trying plenty of long range shots in this match, but they aren't coming off at the moment. Doyle is the latest to let fly from 30 yards out, but his effort swings away from goal and ends a long way wide.

41 minNotts County will be happy to reach the break at 1-0 you feel. United are starting to pile more pressure on now and the visitors are having to defend with all 10 remaining players. Their best chance of a goal looks to be from set pieces as they haven't threatened much from open play, especially since the red card.

43 minBrandy is making a real nuisance of himself in this match. He isn't giving up on anything and I can see him becoming a real fan favourite here if he can keep this up.

45 minThere will be two additional minutes at the end of the first half.

45+1 minSome nice build-up play by Sheffield United forces gaps to open in the Notts County defence, but McDonald's pass to the right was too heavy and the eventual cross was easy for the keeper.

45+2 minHALF TIME: Sheffield United 1-0 Notts County

8.37pmThe first half of the new league season ends with Sheffield United in the lead, and deservedly so. The Blades have dominated possession and are in complete control of the match. They will want a second sooner rather than later just to give themselves some breathing space, but manager David Weir will be delighted with how his first 45 minutes as a manager have gone.

8.39pmThe main talking point of the half will, of course, be Gary Liddle's red card. It was a reckless challenge and he took a risk even going for it with his foot, but I still believe that it was a genuine attempt to get the ball and not the player. He did, in fact, get the ball, but his follow through caught McDonald in the side. It was fairly similar to the controversial dismissal of Nani in the Champions League match between Manchester United and Real Madrid last season, which I think was another harsh decision. Still, you could see why the ref gave it and I doubt that Notts County will be successful with an appeal.

8.41pmMcDonald was also involved in the other highlight of the half as he gave Sheffield United a deserved lead on the half hour mark. He arrived late into the box and, although he fluffed his effort a little, it still gave the keeper no chance and ended up in the back of the net.

8.43pmThat is the difference between the two sides as things stand and, to be honest, it is not a difference that Notts County look like overturning on the basis of that first half display. They have threatened Sheffield United's goal twice, first through Haynes 14 seconds before the red card, and then through Labadie just six minutes after the goal. The latter really should have gone in, which would have made Kiwomya's team talk a lot easier.

8.45pmI'm afraid that things don't look any brighter for the visitors when it comes to Sheffield United's record of defending leads. They have not lost in any of the last 31 matches in which they have scored the first goal, winning the vast majority of them.

8.47pmCertainly an uphill battle for Notts County, then. Kiwomya will be trying to keep his side's hopes up, and will no doubt point to Labadie's missed chance as an example of why they still have hope. As long as they can keep it at 1-0, they stand a chance of nicking an equaliser. Their best chance of scoring seems to be from set pieces, so Kiwomya may also be telling his side to win as many free kicks and corners as they can.

8.49pmKiwomya will also be pointing to the fact that Sheffield United haven't really had many good chances despite their numerical advantage.

45 minKICKOFF: Notts County get us back underway in this second half. Can they muster up an unlikely comeback?

47 minSAVE! United are queuing up to shoot on the edge of the box. A deflected cross is headed clear by Sheehan, but only as far as McDonald and Doyle on the edge of the box. McDonald eventually takes control of the situation and forces a good low save out of Bialkowski.

49 minCLOSE! McDonald comes close again as United play an early free kick to the midfielder, who lines a shot up from about 25 yards out before lashing it narrowly wide.

50 minYELLOW CARD: Referee Keith Stroud has provoked the ire of the home fans with this decision. Brandy and Arquin are involved in a tangle inside the Notts County box, and the former eventually goes to ground. The referee blows his whistle, but awards the foul against the Sheffield United man, who complains about the decision enough to earn a yellow card. Very harsh decision by the referee, if anything that should have been a penalty.

51 minYELLOW CARD: Another yellow card follows immediately, this time for a challenge on Brandy. The winger raced past Fotheringham, who left a leg out to trip the United man. Correct decision by the ref this time.

53 minCHANCE! Oh what a chance for Porter to double his side's lead! Brandy skips past Fotheringham yet again before delivering a low cross into the box. It takes a slight touch off a defender on its way through which makes it harder for the striker, but he really should still score. Instead, he blazes it well over from all of six yards out.

55 minCHANCE! I didn't think Porter would get a better chance than that one, but this one may rival it! A corner goes all the way through to Collins, who volleys it back across the face of goal. Porter just needs the slightest of touches to divert it in, but he is flat-footed and just can't react in time. Notts County escape again.

56 minNOTTS COUNTY SUB: Chris Kiwomya has decided that it is time for a change, and it is an attacking one. He takes midfielder Yoann Arquin off and replaces him with Enoch Showunmi, who will go up front.

58 minNOTTS COUNTY SUB: Another change for the visitors as Greg Tempest replaces Labadie, who trudges off the field slowly.

59 minGOAL! Sheffield United 1-1 Notts County (Enoch Showunmi)

60 minWhat an impact from the substitute, who levels the sides just two minutes after coming on. The goal came out of absolutely nothing, and has shocked the home fans. A long ball forward saw Showunmi challenging for it with a United defender. The Notts County striker doesn't win the initial battle, but the ball falls to him around 27 yards from goal and he fires it into the bottom corner. It took the keeper by surprise, and he isn't the only one to be taken aback by that goal which has come completely out of the blue.

62 minSHOT! United look to hit straight back as McGinn lets fly from the edge of the box, but his effort is always rising and goes comfortably over.

64 minThe Notts County fans are taken much joy in reminding Sheffield United that they've 'only got 10 men'. There is still plenty of time to go in this match, though, and United will undoubtedly put a lot of pressure on the Magpies' defence in the final 25 minutes or so.

65 minNOTTS COUNTY SUB: The visitors make their third and final change as Danny Haynes sees his debut cut short by the arrival of Francois Zoko.

66 minSHEFFIELD UNITED SUB: Sheffield United respond with a sub of their own, bringing Callum McFadzean on in place of Jamie Murphy.

67 minGOAL! Sheffield United 2-1 Notts County (Harry Maguire)

68 minThe hosts restore their lead with just over 20 minutes left of the match. A deep free kick finds Maguire unmarked at the far post and he does well to loop a header back over into the far corner from a tight angle. Very good finish from the defender, who has now scored four of his seven senior goals against Notts County.

69 minSHEFFIELD UNITED SUB: Immediately after that goal David Weir makes a change up front for his side. Lyle Taylor comes on for his competitive debut, replacing Chris Porter, who will be upset at not having scored tonight.

71 minChris Kiwomya will be unhappy at the referee for awarding the free kick that led to United's second goal. There appeared to be nothing in the challenge, and the ref must have been the only one who saw something wrong there.

73 minSpace opens up for McDonald on the edge of the box, but his shot is blocked by the defence. Notts County need another goal to come from nowhere as they don't seem able to create any sort of attacking momentum at the moment.

75 minBrandy is brought down by Fotheringham to gift United a free kick in a good position. It is very central but quite a way out, so it will be interesting to see what United do with this one.

77 minThe Blades' skipper Doyle is down and receiving treatment at the moment. He is really struggling to walk even with the aid of a physio and may have to go off here. He will be a big loss if it is a serious injury.

79 minSHEFFIELD UNITED SUB: Another debutant comes on for Sheffield United in their third and final sub as Conor Coady - on loan from Liverpool - replaces the injured Doyle.

80 minSAVE! After a long wait, the free kick is finally taken and it is Taylor who goes for goal. His powerful low strike bounces just before the keeper, but it is always fairly comfortable for Bialkowski.

82 minThe hosts are just patiently knocking the ball about at the moment. They aren't going to try to force another chance, instead waiting for any gaps to appear in the Notts County defence. Weir will be happy with a 2-1 win and his side look set to see it out rather than risking committing too many man forward.

84 minMcDonald and Brandy have been particularly impressive for the hosts today. McDonald has been involved in pretty much everything positive that United have done and it is hard to see how he only managed one goal last season. Brandy, meanwhile, has been a nuisance for the defence and looks set to be a very good signing on this performance.

86 minCLOSE! I said Notts County needed a goal from nothing, and they almost got it in spectacular style there! A long throw is headed out by the United defence as far as Fotheringham, who lets fly with a first-time volley from a good 30-35 yards out. He catches it sweetly and it flies just past the post. That was a very good effort and he is unlucky not to have been rewarded for it.

88 minNotts County are just beginning to ask a few more questions of the Sheffield United defence now, but they still don't look capable of breaking them down to create a good chance. Time is running out for the visitors.

89 minCHANCE! Big chance for United to put the game beyond doubt, and for Brandy to get a deserved goal. Coady is instrumental as he plays a series of passes in midfield before eventually setting Westlake free down the right. The full-back pulls it back to Brandy who dances around a tackle before seeing his shot well saved by Bialkowski at the near post.

90 minThere will be five minutes of added time! New hope for Notts County!

90+1 minCHANCE! United are getting closer and closer to getting a third. Westlake plays a smart ball into Coady, who beats his man with a swerve of the hips before trying to steer it into the bottom corner with the outside of his boot only to see it go inches wide.

90+3 minCLOSE! United are having all of the chances late on! Westlake is involved again as he fires a low cross across the face of goal which just eludes Brandy at the far post. It was probably a shot by the full-back, but almost turned into a very good cross.

90+4 minYELLOW CARD! Pure frustration from Leacock as Sheffield United play the ball into the corner, prompting the defender to go straight through the back of McDonald. Silly challenge.

90+5 minFULL TIME: Sheffield United 2-1 Notts County

9.43pmThat will do for Sheffield United! They record the first win of the new Football League season and David Weir wins his first game as a manager. It was an impressive display from the Blades, who were on top even before Gary Liddle's early red card. The season looks positive for them, while Chris Kiwomya will be hoping that this isn't a sign of things to come for Notts County this season.

9.45pmRight, that's it from me tonight. Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for tonight's match as we celebrated the 125th season of the Football League getting underway. Sheffield United ran out 2-1 winners over a 10-man Notts County side courtesy of goals from Kevin McDonald and Harry Maguire. I will leave you with Joe Fish's match report, and be sure to check back tomorrow for loads more Football League action. From me, though, it's good night!

David Weir
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