Sheffield United kicked off their pre-season tour of Scotland with a narrow 1-0 win over First Division outfit Greenock Morton last night.
New Blades boss David Weir was back on familiar territory for his first match in the dugout and will be relatively pleased with the way his side acquitted themselves.
Of his new signings, only former St Mirren and Watford midfielder Stephen McGinn was handed a start.
Trialists Danny Grainger, Steven Saunders, and Roy Kayara, a 23-year-old from New Caledonia, were listed amongst the substitutes.
The Bramall Lane men previously visited Cappielow Park for a friendly with Morton in the summer of 2006 when Neil Warnock took his team north of the border, with United winning 3-1,
Last night’s match was typical pre-season fare in the opening half hour, with United content to stroke the ball around the backline and retain possession.
Marauding left-back Marcus Williams looked the Blades’ most useful attacking avenue in the first period.
On 28 minutes, a swashbuckling foray forward ended with him cleverly lifting the ball over the head of Scott Taggart, but his route to goal was blocked.
The first real attempt on goal arrived eight minutes before the break, and it was Blades’ Kevin McDonald who came within a hair’s breadth of opening the scoring. Calum McFadzean scampered clear after a long pass over the top and slipped the ball back into the path of the inrushing McDonald.
The midfield man unleashed a fierce low drive which Morton’s French goalkeeper Nicolas Caraux superbly flicked on to the outside of the post and wide.Weir made wholesale changes at the break, switching his entire 11 and introducing Febian Brandy and Sean McGinty.
Like the first, the second period took a while to warm up - but the game truly burst into life on the hour mark.
Trialist Kayara slipped Chris Porter in on goal on 63 minutes only for the frontman to be denied by another fine Caraux stop. However, Porter gave the keeper no chance with a coolly taken penalty on 69 minutes after lively sub Brandy was sent tumbling inside the box by a clumsy foul.
Where Howard was a virtual spectator, his replacement, George Willis, was made to earn his corn, producing acrobatic saves to thwart Tony Wallace and another Morton trialist.
The Blades comfortably held on for a morale-boosting victory, the only blot on the copy book the withdrawal of Brandy who appeared to have picked up a knock.
MORTON: Caraux; Taggart, Trialist (Page, 59), McLaughlin (Trialist, 46), Trialist (Trialist, 46); Trialist (Trialist, 46), Bachirou (Knight, 76), Trialist, O’Brien (Russell, 76); Campbell (Wallace, 59), Trialist (McKee, 46).Subs: Gaston.
UNITED: Howard; Westlake, Williams, Maguire, Hill, Doyle, McGinn, McFadzean, McDonald, Cresswell, Ironside. Second Half: Willis; Saunders, Grainger, Higginbotham, Collins, Whitehouse, McGinty, Kayara, Brandy (McFadzean, 83), Murphy, Porter.