2014/15: Pre-season Friendly – Sheffield United v Fenerbahce

The great thing about friendlies is the unlikely pairings they sometimes throw together. Take the fixture last night that pitched Sheffield United from England’s League One against Turkish Champions, Fenerbahce; brought about by Blades Director Selahattin Baki who hails from Turkey. It was arranged to mark the 125th Anniversary of Sheffield United and to raise money for the Turkish Mining Disaster Fund.

In many ways it was a strange evening and one of contrasts. The game itself was a pre-season friendly, but because of the size of the crowd (12,950) and the large contingent of Fenerbahce fans (who were housed in the upper tier of the Jessica Ennis Stand), it had the feel and edge of a league game. The teams themselves also provided a significant contrast, with The Blades starting with youngsters such as 17 year old Louis Reed, whilst Fenerbahce fielded a starting line-up of internationals, including Cameroonian international Pierre Webo and the Portuguese pair of Raul Meireles and Bruno Alves, who had featured for their countries at the recent World Cup in Brazil.

Given the strength of the Turkish side it was no surprise that they dominated the chances in the opening half, with their ease on the ball and slick passing and movement. Within the opening ten minutes Meireles had his effort on goal well held by Mark Howard, but the United keeper could do nothing on eleven minutes when Caner Erkin’s cross was headed home by Webo. Indeed, the Cameroonian could have had a hat-trick in the first-half, but he was unable to take any of the chances. Turkish international Gokhan Gonul also had a decent opportunity to increase the visitors lead, but it proved to be another wasted opportunity. Sheffield United though did have chances of their own, the best a header from Marc McNulty from close range, which unfortunately was put over the bar. The other significant ‘action’ came off the pitch as mid-way during the half, a number of flares were lit by the away fans which had the stewards scurrying to put them out – a glimpse of terrace life, Turkey style.

Half-time and a chance to grab a well-earned pint. However, after spending the half-time break queuing, when we eventually reached the counter, we were informed that it was a food-only stand. Rather than join another queue the decision was made to leave the ground and head for a pub and so then have a leisurely wait for the train. It’s not something that would normally be considered, but with it being a friendly and knowing that I had to make the train for my connection, it was a fairly easy decision to make.

So what was missed in the second-half (besides copious substitutions)? Two goals by The Blades in the last fifteen minutes (Chris Porter and Neill Collins) which sealed what seemed an unlikely win after the first-half. A strange evening indeed…

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Posted August 1, 2014 by Editor in category "Football Features

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