SHEFFIELD United’s pre-seasons preparations were dealt a blow when Harry Maguire, their promising teenage centre-half, was dismissed during the opening stages of last night’s win over Hibernians.
Maguire, regarded by many as Chris Morgan’s heir apparent at Bramall Lane, saw red after a challenge on Brazilian Luis Edison Dos Santos.
United, who took the lead through Daniel Bogdanovic, now face an anxious wait to discover whether Maguire faces further punishment when the officials give their version of events in what promises to be an intriguing post-match report.
However, the visitors overcame their numerical disadvantage when substitute David McAllister pounced to complete 90 minutes of mixed fortunes in Paola.
New signing Chris Porter made his debut as a late replacement for Stephen Quinn. With Ched Evans remaining at home in England, Bogdanovic and Richard Cresswell spearheaded United’s attack. United’s assistant manager Frank Barlow, again taking charge in Danny Wilson’s absence, was looking to continue his 100 per cent record at the helm following Monday’s victory over Sliema Wanderers.
The visitors made a perfect start when Bogdanovic, one of the poster boys of the Maltese game, was sent scampering clear and caressed the ball beyond his international team mate Mario Muscat with barely three minutes gone.
But United’s hopes of a comfortable evening were dashed after a quarter-of-an-hour.
Dos Santos, who moments earlier had threatened to ghost past Neill Collins and Ryan Flynn, was brought down by Maguire inside the area. Having awarded the spot-kick, the referee had no option but to dismiss the youngster before the Hibernians’ forward emphatically converted the resulting penalty.
United, who had a strong claim of their own waved away when Adrian Pulis handled Lee Williamson’s cross, responded with another Bogdanovic effort which fizzed just past the foot of Muscat’s post.
Hiberninans, though, were proving awkward opposition.
Steve Simonsen gathered Bjorn Kristensen’s low drive but was left scrambling dramatically across his line when Marcelo Dias went close.
Despite a flurry of changes at the interval, United started the second-half in ominious fashion.
Michael Doyle came within a whisker of planting a sweeping cross on Cresswell’s head but McAllister hit the target when Cresswell helped on Quinn’s 57th minute free-kick.
n HIBERNIANS: M Muscat, Camilleri, Balbinot, Cornforth, Pulis, Caruana, Kristensen, Pisani, Cohen, Dos Santos, Dias.
n UNITED: Simonsen (Long 46), Lowton (Kozluk 46), Maguire, Collins, Jean-Francois, Williamson (Conneely 46), Doyle, Quinn (Porter 80), Flynn (McAllister 46), Bogdanovic (Kruk 46), Cresswell (Philliskirk 60).