Sheff Utd 2 Newcastle 2
Written by Newcastle Utd
Goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Siem de Jong helped secure a 2-2 friendly draw at Sheffield United
By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor
At Bramall Lane
Sheffield United 2 (McNulty 49, Freeman 86)
Newcastle United 2 (Wijnaldum 40, de Jong 79)
Newcastle United went double Dutch on Sunday as goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Siem de Jong helped secure a 2-2 pre-season friendly draw at Sheffield United.
Wijnaldum, a summer signing from PSV Eindhoven, tucked home late in the first half at Bramall Lane after Blades goalkeeper George Long saved from Papiss Cisse.
The Blades were back on terms early in the second period as Mark McNulty confidently finished off a one-on-one, but substitute de Jong helped Newcastle regain their advantage with time ticking away.
That looked to be enough to win the fixture - which was a testimonial for Sheffield United stalwart Chris Morgan - but home full-back Kieron Freeman had other ideas and equalised with a brilliant long-range strike.
Newcastle now travel to York City on Wednesday night (7.45pm kick-off) before rounding off their pre-season preparations with a home game against Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday (3pm kick-off).
Head coach Steve McClaren named a strong starting line-up for the trip to Sheffield, featuring no fewer than six senior internationals. And one of those came within inches of breaking the deadlock inside the opening two minutes.
On the edge of the area, the summer signing had the presence of mind to tee up Papiss Cisse, but although the Senegalese striker's curling effort beat goalkeeper George Long, it crashed off the upright and away to safety.
The Blades responded and winger Martyn Woolford snuck into the box unmarked but could only blaze a first-time shot well over.
In heavy rain it was end-to-end stuff, with Wijanldum narrowly off target from 20 yards before a last-ditch Janmaat block prevented Che Adam's drive getting anywhere near goal.
In the 25th minute, the hosts should have opened the scoring. Winger Jamie Adams got down the left and picked out Adams with an inch-perfect cut-back from the by-line.
However, somehow the striker completely failed to hit the target from eight yards when it seemed easier to score.
Marc McNulty was next to go close, finding the side netting - rather than the back of it - after Newcastle failed to clear their lines from Jose Baxter's free-kick.
Sheffield United were piling on the pressure with half-time approaching, and only an outstanding save from Tim Krul kept the Magpies' clean sheet in tact.
As Steven Taylor closed down a strike from Adams, a huge deflection off the centre-back appearaed to sending the ball into the far corner.
But Krul had other ideas and readjusted himself before pushing out a strong wrist to divert it behind.
And that was to prove crucial as, in the 40th minute, Wijnaldum fired Newcastle in front.
It owed much to the intelligence of Cisse, who seized upon a backpass, forcing Long to race off his line and dive at his feet.
As the ball sprung loose on the sodden Bramall Lane surface, Wijnaldum pounced, sidefooting home from ten yards for his second goal in as many games.
That gave Newcastle a half-time advantage but the Blades were level four minutes into the second period.
McNulty exchanged passes with Adams and got in behind the visitors' rearguard, before calmly slotting through the legs of the on-rushing Krul.
A raft of substitutions from both sides meant the game became a little disjointed, and chances at either end became few and far between.
However, de Jong edged the Magpies back in front with 11 minutes remaining, ghosting in at the far post to slot home Jack Colback's corner, which had been flicked on.
That should have been enough to secure victory but it didn't take long for Sheffield United to conjure up a second equaliser of the afternoon - a stunner from the right boot of Freeman, who drove a brilliant half-volley past the full-stretch Krul from around 30 yards.
There was still time for Morgan to step off the substitutes' bench for the closing stages, and take on the captain's armband, and the Blades hero kept Newcastle quiet as they pushed for a late winner.
Sheffield United (4-4-2): George Long; Kieron Freeman, Neill Collins (Chris Morgan 87), Jay McEveley (c) (Kieran Wallace 85), Callum McFadzean; Martyn Woolford (Jamal Campbell-Ryce 46), Chris Basham (James Wallace 75), Jose Baxter Louis Reed 69), Jamie Murphy (Stefan Scougall 58); Marc McNulty (Matt Done 60), Che Adams (Conor Sammon 60)
Subs not used: George Willis, Diego di Girolamo, Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Tim Krul; Daryl Janmaat (c), Mike Williamson, Steven Taylor (Jamaal Lascelles 69), Massadio Haidara; Vurnon Anita (Gabriel Obertan 59), Jack Colback (Yoan Gouffran 88); Moussa Sissoko (Mehdi Abeid 80), Georginio Wijnaldum (Siem de Jong 73), Ayoze Perez (Rolando Aarons 46); Papiss Cisse (Adam Armstrong 80)
Subs not used: Karl Darlow, Lubomir Satka
Referee: Andrew Madley
Bookings: Sheffield United - none; Newcastle United - none
Attendance: 12,002 (2,000 Newcastle)