This afternoon’s match marked the start of a brand new era at Bramall Lane.
Yesterday’s announcement that Sheffield United have secured fresh investment, described as being “a game-changer” by plc chairman Kevin McCabe, means the club could be set for big things in the future.
Manager David Weir and his players, however, knew they must remain focused on the here and now.
MK Dons boast a reputation as dangerous, tricky opponents and, despite United making the better start, were sharp on the counter-attack.
However, it was not until the 15th minute that Martin was forced to make a notable save; smothering the ball at Baxter’s feet when the hosts threatened to break loose.
Moments earlier, McLeod had made an early claim for blooper of the season after escaping Maguire’s clutches, only to woefully miscalculate his angles at the near post.
United are scheduled to unveil the identity of their new backer, who has pledged to provide “ongoing funding” in return for a 50 per cent stake, on Tuesday ahead of a formal unveiling next month.
Weir has made no secret of the fact he wants to strengthen his squad before the transfer deadline, with Baxter’s arrival from Oldham Athletic marking the start of that process.
The former Everton midfielder, charged with exploiting the space behind centre-forward Taylor, produced some intelligent touches.
One, as early as the ninth minute, nearly sent his team mate scampering clean through.
Moments later they swapped roles, with Taylor looking to return the favour as what could prove a profitable partnership began to develop.
Likewise a rivalry between McMahon and members of the visiting team, with Carruthers cautioned for exacting revenge soon after the full-back’s crunching challenge on Lewington.
Taylor and Baxter both shot wide as United pressed, before a delightful piece of skill from Carruthers released Bamford, only for the assistant referee’s flag to halt his progress.
After a first-half containing a sprinkling of football but precious few incidents of note, a brief cameo from Hodson summed-up the problem so far.
The Dons defender cruised forward and produced a sweeping cross after selling his marker with a clever feint only to see the ball sail safely into The Kop.
At the other end, Taylor dragged wide before a powerful drive forward was halted by Hodson.
Baxter saw a shot down before Ironside was intoduced in the 58th minute, at Taylor’s expense, and Flynn received a caution for diving after tangling with Lewington in the Dons box. Weir was not amused.
Chadwick replaced McLeod in the 62nd minute before Brandy and Murphy almost immediately exchanged places in United’s team.
It quickly became apparent the United substitute was a marked man.
His first contribution was a mazy run which ended with Williams receiving a caution for upending him and McMahon testing Martin at the foot of the near post from the subsequent free-kick. Then, Lewington was fortunate to escape without a caution after again scything the former Walsall midfielder down.
United, though, had gradually established a stranglehold on the game.
Baxter slipped just as he connected with Flynn’s drag-back from the edge of the box and his shot was charged down. In the 71st minute, Dons introduced Alli with Banton making way.
Brandy made his presence felt again when, in the 74th minute, he danced through the Dons defence and found Ironside.
The youngster, however, was unable to create enough room for a clean shot.
Carruthers made way for Baldock soon after as Karl Robinson, the Dons manager, made his third and final change. Bamford screwed well wide from outside the area.
Referee David Webb continued to spoil an otherwise decent display but misjudging fair tackles for fouls while Brandy out-did McLeod in the blooper stakes after Gleeson had been booked.
Only five minutes remained when Baxter worked the ball across the area and found Brandy, after Ironside had taken out his marker, at the far post.
The United man shot wide with the goal at his mercy from close range and it proved a costly error.
Two minutes later, KAY scored the winner after rising to meet Williams’ free-kick and heading back across Long’s goal.
McFadzean replaced Flynn in added time but could not change the final outcome.
Brandy’s temper got the better of him moments from time when he was red carded for a tackle on Hodson.