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In opposition: Sheffield United v Notts County

26 September 2012

There's an early season clash between two promotion contenders in npower League 1 this weekend as second-placed Notts County travel to Bramall Lane to take on a Sheffield United side that is yet to taste defeat so far this term.

Here, we preview the game with the help of a supporter from each club.


Name: Paul McDonald

Club: Sheffield United.

Number of years as a supporter: 25.

Favourite moment as a fan: The 4-3 home win against Nottingham Forest in the Play-Offs in 2003.

How many games a season do you attend? 35-40.


Name: Stuart Brothers

Club: Notts County.

Number of years as a supporter: 18 - first game in 1994.

Favourite moment as a fan: Sitting in the back row of the Juventus Arena last season for the opening of the future Serie A Champions' stadium last September. Never known anything so surreal in my life, I'd very much like to go back at some point this season.

How many games a season do you attend? I generally only miss a handful these days - a far cry from when I was living in Wales and only saw us play a few times every few years.


What happened in your last match?

PM: A 1-0 win away at Yeovil kept our unbeaten run going, a header from stand-in captain Neill Collins winning a tight game.

SB: We were about as comfortable as I've ever seen us in all honesty - a 3-0 win over Portsmouth who offered very little resistance. It was perhaps a little disappointing that we took our foot off the gas but our run of games, starting with Sheffield United, is huge - we play the teams currently in first and third at home afterwards.

Why is this game important?

PM: From United's point of view, we need to have a better record than last season against sides expected to be in and around the top of the table. Just two wins from the ten games against the five other teams in the top six needs to be improved upon if we're to avoid the Play-Offs for the second successive campaign.

SB: Quite a few reasons actually - not least because it's a great chance to cement our place in the higher places of League 1. We've made a brilliant start, with just one defeat, but tests like this are what we'll be measured by. We're also unbeaten away from home in 11 games under Keith Curle which became a club record at stadiummk just over a week ago. That run includes smashing last year's eventual League 1 winners Charlton Athletic 4-2 at the Valley, so we're very proud of it at Notts County. Psychologically as well I think it's massive for our players. They're starting to acquit themselves a lot better against the perceived big teams in the division so a big performance would instil even more belief in our squad.

How do you see this game going?

PM: Apart from the Bournemouth home game, each match so far this season has been tightly contested and low on goals - I see this being the same. County arrive on the back of a good win at home against Portsmouth but the return of skipper Michael Doyle and winger Ryan Flynn from suspension will be a boost to a side who have struggled to create clear-cut chances in their absence.

SB: I'm more confident of us taking at least a point from this than I would've been at the start of the season. Our formerly-makeshift centre-back pairing of Dean Leacock and Gary Liddle have formed a great partnership, whilst Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Joss Labadie, Alan Judge and Francois Zoko in midfield will trouble any defence - particularly that of a team yet to start playing at their best this season.

United's results suggest they're a team still coming to terms with last season. I don't particularly think we'll go into the game underestimating them, though. It's not that long ago that they hammered us 5-2 at home and I'm sure Keith Curle won't allow the players to let their guard down.

Who should we keep our eye on?

PM: Nick Blackman has had a good start to his United career while the return of Michael Doyle will make a big difference to the side.

SB: Campbell-Ryce has been an animal since debuting after missing the start of the season through injury. He grabbed a debut goal away at Oldham, whether it was a cross or a shot is irrelevant - the charging run from his own half is something we've been crying out for at times this year.

Score prediction?

PM I see both teams scoring, with United to edge it 2-1.

SB: Purely out of respect for United I want to say this one's heading for goalless draw - but I think we'll sneak a 1-0 here.

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