The figure of Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was the backdrop to Sheffield United’s game at Scunthorpe tonight, writes Bob Westerdale.
While the Johnstone Paints Trophy game has its (modest) place in the Blades’ season, the talking point of those who had made the journey from Sheffield was that of the previously unknown member of Saudi Arabia’s Royal family who has promised to splash the cash in exchange for half the club’s holding company, Blades Leisure Ltd.
The Prince, said to be worth £18 billion, has his eyes on the Premier League.
Tonight, was a long way short of that - a Tuesday night and a low-key JP Trophy Northern First Round match at Glanford Park.
With neither side having won any of their last five fixtures, some inspiration was needed to match others’ vision of the future.
New signings Florent Cuvelier from Stoke City was in the starting line up.
Mark Howard was in goal with George Long on international duty.
But Febian Brandy was starting his three-match ban for his red card against MK Dons last Saturday.
United had a decent start, with Ryan Flynn putting an effort the wrong side of the post.
Ten minutes later, Florent Cuvelier had a shot but couldn’t get the better of Sam Slocombe.
The Iron eventually got their act together and on-loan striker Jimmy Spencer and Etienne Esajas both menaced the away goal.
While the League Two side started to feel comfortable in possession, Callum McFadzean did find space for a shot, which went wide of the target.
The second half saw Spencer unleash a drive which had to be repelled by Howard back.
David Weir decided to shake things up a bit on the hour.
He sent on Lyle Taylor comes on in place of Joe Ironside and Jose Baxter on for Cuvelier.
Then on 72 minutes, Tony McMahon was replaced by Sean McGinty.
McGinty and Coady looked lively as the match headed for a stalemate and penalties.
Collins, Baxter Coady, Taylor and McGinty all scored for United from the spot, to win the game 5-3.
Scunthorpe United (4-4-2): Slocombe; Ribeiro, Mirfin, Canavan, Dawson; Sparrow, Nolan, McAllister, Esajas; Spencer, Winnall.
Substitutes: Severn, Burton, Welsh, Hawkridge, Waterfall.
Sheffield United (4-2-3-1): Howard; McMahon, Maguire, Collins, Westlake; Coady, McGinn; Flynn, Cuvelier, McFadzean, Ironside.
Substitutes: Willis, Taylor, Baxter, McGinty, Eyre.
Ref: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire.)