SHEFFIELD United ran out convincing winners at Meadow Lane after a superb first-half destruction of Notts County.
The visitors started brightly and soon began to dominate the play before going ahead on 16 minutes when Harry Maguire played in Stephen Quinn just inside the area and he was virtually unchallenged as he turned and placed the ball past Stuart Nelson.
Top scorer Ched Evans doubled the lead on 22 minutes as he dealt better than Krystian Pearce with a long free-kick and finished from a tight angle.
The Blades were threatening to run riot on 27 minutes as a free-kick was cleared only as far as full-back Matthew Lowton, who fired home a stunning 30-yard shot into the bottom corner.
A miserable first half for the home side was completed on the stroke of half-time as a quick corner saw Kevin McDonald cross for Neill Collins to head into the top corner to make it 4-0 at the break.
In the second period, Jonathan Forte missed a golden chance on 50 minutes for the hosts before McDonald’s left-footed drive on 66 minutes flew inches wide of the post.
A perfectly placed free-kick from Alan Judge gave County a consolation on 77 minutes before home captain Neal Bishop saw red for a second bookable offence.
Lee Williamson completed the Blades’ scoring on 89 minutes with a cool finish into the top corner before substitute Julian Kelly nodded home a second for the hosts to leave the final score at 5-2 to the Blades, who had the support of over 3,000 fans.
Notts County: Nelson, Sheehan, Edwards, Bishop, Hughes, Judge, Forte (Adebola 59), Freeman, Burgess (Hughes 59), Sam, Pearce (Kelly 67). Unused substitutes: Mahon, Bencheriff.
Sheffield United: Simonsen, Lowton, Doyle, Evans (Hoskins 86), Williamson, Collins, Cresswell (Beattie 74), Maguire, McDonald (Williams 67), Quinn, Hill. Unused substitutes: Howard, Egan.
Referee: G Eltringham (Tyne and Wear).