Against opponents boasting a combined total of 540 international caps in their starting eleven and 33 major trophies crammed onto the mantelpiece back home in Istanbul, the odds on a Sheffield United victory were longer than the Bosphorus.
But beating Fenerbahçe did not prove beyond Nigel Clough’s players last night with second half goals from Chris Porter and Neill Collins securing victory over their illustrious opponents.
Regardless of the final scoreline, this friendly with the 19-time Turkish champions would have been an invaluable experience for many members of the League One club’s squad.
Louis Reed, who only turned 17 last week, spent nearly 90 minutes pitting his wits against the likes of Raul Meireles and Emre Belozoglu while another youngster, Marc McNulty, found himself being marked by Caner Erkin and Bruno Alves.
Indeed, Reed was responsible for delivering the cross which Porter glanced home to secure a late but – given the effort they had invested – deserved equaliser following Pierre Webo’s opener.
That was the signal for Collins to convert Ben Davies’ 90th minute corner and ensure United’s 125th anniversary fixture ended on a memorable note.
A perfectly observed minute’s silence and applause in memory of those who died in the Soma Mining Disaster – a portion of the gate receipts will be donated to a victims’ fund – marked the start of a match which tested both United’s technical skills and mental strength.
Ersun Yanal’s side required less than three minutes to craft their first opportunity of note, Meireles miscalculating the flight of the ball following an exchange with Webo, before the Portuguese went close again from range.
Nevertheless, it was McNulty who enjoyed the best chance of the early exchanges after connecting with Davies’ corner only to lose his balance and head over Volkan Demirel’s crossbar.
Although Clough has insisted results at this stage of the summer are almost irrelevant, he has expressed concerns about the manner in which a rearguard which kept 17 clean sheets last season has been breached in recent weeks.
So the sight of Webo turning home beyond Mark Howard after 12 minutes will not have eased those concerns. Erkin’s centre was perfectly flighted but the Cameroonian striker should not have been granted so much space.
Nevertheless, United did cause some problems of their own with Jamal Campbell-Ryce and Reed in particular thrusting Fenerbahçe onto the back foot as the hosts looked to respond.
Porter rounded Demirel during the closing stages of the first-half but McNulty, who had escaped Alves, was only inches away from applying what would have been a decisive touch.
With George Long loaned to Oxford, Howard is set to assume greater responsibilities next season.
Howard demonstrated the shot-stopping abilities which convinced Clough to hand him the number one jersey by producing a superb reaction save to prevent Fenerbahçe from extending their lead straight after the break when Moussa Sow weaved his way through a crowded penalty area before unleashing a vicious strike.
Howard denied the Senegal marksman again soon after while Campbell-Ryce was unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when he was upended by Gokhan Gonul inside the box.
But, with Fenerbahçe losing their rhythm as Yanal rang the changes, Porter and Collins seized their opportunities in ruthless fashion.
SHEFFIELD UNITED: Howard, Flynn (Alcock 55), Butler, McGahey (Collins 69), Davies, Doyle (Basham 76), Reed (Dimaio 83), McGinn (Wallace 75), Porter (De Girolamo 75), Campbell-Ryce (Crawford 75), McNulty. Not used: Willis, Harris, Murphy.
FENERBAHCE: Demirel (Gunok 46), Irtegun (Cinemre 83), Topal (Potuk 46), Sow (Akarslan 75), Webo (Holmen 83), Ribas (Baroni 65), Meireles (Kadlec 46), Belozoglu (Sahin 46), Alves (Kesimal 65), Gonul (Topal 62), Erkin (Kaldirim 62). Not used: Taskiran, Degirmencioglu, Ergul.
REFEREE: Ryuji Sato.
GOALS: Webo (12), Porter (74), Collins (90)
CAUTIONS: Kesimal (81)