Exeter City 1 v 2 Sheffield United (Pre-Season Friendly)
Exeter City welcomed League One side Sheffield United in their final pre-season friendly at St James Park before the big Sky Bet League One kick-off in two week’s time.
Paul Tisdale named a strong line-up for the game and the starting eleven could well be the side that takes to the field to begin the 2015-16 Sky Bet League Two campaign against local rivals Yeovil Town.
Sheffield United manager Nigel Adkins, who brought Reading to St James Park for a pre-season fixture a year ago, switched goalkeepers for the game after handing in the teamsheets, with George Long the former Motherwell loanee, replacing Mark Howard in the starting line up.
David Wheeler went close for Exeter on ten minutes when his curling effort went just over George Long’s crossbar.
Sheffield United took the lead just four minutes later debutant Martyn Woolford delivered a corner to the edge of the City’s six yard box, were Neil Collins headed expertly beyond City goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik to give United a 1-0.
Exeter were by no means being outclassed by their League One opponents and they can find themselves very unlucky not to be going in level at half-time, when Arron Davies delivered a special pass for Lee Holmes to take in his stride before hitting the ball just wide of Longs post.
City had one other chance to draw level in the first half when Tom Nichols curled the ball just beyond George Long’s far post to leave the half-time score 1-0 to Sheffield united.
On fifty-six minutes, David Wheeler chased a long ball over the top of the Sheffield defence before beating Neil Collins to the ball inside the area, the defenders sliding tackle tripped Wheeler and conceded a penalty, Tom Nichols stepped up for City and sent George Long the wrong way from the spot to make it 1-1.
On the hour mark, Sheffield United changed all ten outfield players which seemed to assist Exeter as they put pressure on the Sheffield midfield and defence. Exeter then controlled the game with some excellent passing from midfield, which in turn created some great chances for the City forwards.
On eighty minutes, United struck a late winner as Che Adams found himself in space in the City penalty area. His effort went through the legs of Exeter’s goalkeeper Olejnik to make the final score 2-1 to Sheffield United.
Speaking after the game Exeter manager Paul Tilsdale said, “I was pleased with the performances against both Sheffield United and Bournemouth, they were both very productive for us.
I though it was a different type of football to that what we’re going to be used to in Sky Bet League Two, the players have worked really well and there is a great level of cohesion in the squad, the boys are building up the intensity in their play.
The last few games have been a hard ask for the front players, because they’ve had to do a lot of work off the ball while we’ve been defending at the back. Hopefully, over the next couple of weeks we’ll be able to provide them with a little more joy in the forward areas.
We’re getting closer to our team for Yeovil. These friendlies have allowed me an opportunity to see where we have strength. We’re going to have a three-day break and then it will be a tough week with intensive work in training next week.”
Exeter City – Olejnik, Noble, McAllister, Ribeiro, Harley, Oakley, Holmes, Davies, Nichols, Wheeler, Brown (Subs) Butterfield, Nicholls, Reid, Oyeleke, Hamon, McCready, Tillson, Jay, Watkins, Read, Egan, Down
Sheffield United – Long, Freeman, Collins, McEveley, Woolford, Campbell-Ryce, Basham, Baxter, Murphy, Higdon, McNulty (Subs) Dimaio, McGahey, K.Wallace, McFadzean, Scougall, J.Wallace, Reed, Calvert-Lewin, Adams, Di Girolamo
Goals – (Exeter City) Nichols (56 pen) (Sheffield Utd) Collins (14), Adams (80)
Attendance – 1,122