Three shades of red: Dave Kitson today
Three shades of red: Dave Kitson today

sheffield United had to settle for a draw despite Dave Kitson heading home to put the Blades ahead.

County fought like Trojans to keep a hugely impressive United at bay before the break.

On paper, this match represented the toughest test on both team’s fixture calendar so far.

United entered the contest as favourites to win the title and boasting only one of three unbeaten records in the competition so far this term.

County made the short journey north second in the rakings - four places and three points ahead of Danny Wilson’s side - emboldened by a formidable run of form that has prompted speculation they too will be in the shake-up come the end of the season.

Kitson’s header created the opportunity for Flynn to test the goalkeeper’s reactions with a curling attempt and, two minutes later, Bialkowski came to County’s rescue again when he denied Gallagher with his legs.

Half-time: United 0 Notts 0

County, having achieved their first objective, emerged as a more threatening force after the break.

But KITSON’S 51st minute effort stopped their progress dead in its tracks following an excellent passage of play from the hosts. Blackman hit the post with a thunderous effort and when Maguire helped the ball back in, the former Blackburn striker was this time foiled by Bialkowski. The ball duly fell to Flynn whose centre was headed home in some style by the experienced marksman.

Soon after, though, Zoko drew a superb reaction save from Howard as County looked to restore parity.

Kitson departed to a standing ovation in the 73rd minute when Porter came on the take his place. Blackman, clearly determined to write his name onto the score sheet, saw an ambitious 30 yard effort sail into the Kop before County won a 77th minute corner. Judge’s delivery was poor but after a scramble in the area, LEE HUGHES levelled from close range.

There were five added minutes and, after three, Maguire shot wide f. However, try as they might, United could not fashion a winner with Flynn and Cofie also going wide.