Classic: Blades 0-0 Owls (29/01/2002)

Last updated : 26 August 2009 By @blades_mad1889

The two sides have now served up 180 minutes of typically-frantic football this season without finding the net and it is easy to see why they are both struggling in the wrong half of the table.

A season-high Bramall Lane crowd of 29,364 watched a result of no particular use to either side, although Wednesday will have returned across the city the more relieved with the point.

There was little skill or talent on show, just pure footballing passion in front of a fired-up crowd, which in the end was just not enough to break the deadlock.

It is hard to believe just nine years ago these two sides were involved in an FA Cup semi-final, so it is a sign of the times and how their fortunes have changed that they now find themselves in First Division obscurity.

If Wednesday are not careful, it could yet be the Second Division for Walsall's 2-1 win over Wimbledon leaves the Owls just one point and one place off the drop zone.

In the end it was a tale of two goalkeepers as former Sheffield United apprentice Paul Heald returned to his old stamping ground to make a number of crucial saves.

While at the death it was Simon Tracey who provided the game's most defining moment as United's defence parted, handing Owls striker Efan Ekoku a gift-wrapped chance, one which was ultimately spurned.

Heald, on loan from Wimbledon for a month due to injuries to first-choice Kevin Pressman and Chris Stringer, was never given a first-team chance with the Blades.

But first the 33-year-old brilliantly turned aside a drive from Carl Asaba just before the break, the striker having also seen a header cleared off the line in the seventh minute by Steven Haslam in a first-half more notable for its errors than its entertainment.

At least the temperature of the game was raised by a few degrees after the break, and despite the Owls taking control of the early stages, it was United who were left wondering just how they failed to score.

Asaba should have had the last laugh on neighbour and Owls skipper Trond Soltvedt, but after flashing a header wide, he was also called up for a foul on Leigh Bromby in the 64th minute after his shot had ballooned off Heald and over the line.

Asaba was also involved in a foot race with Heald to a woeful back pass from Ashley Westwood, but as the two collided the ball trickled wide of the left-hand post, and at that stage it was clear it was not going to be his or United's night.

In the end it was Tracey, never on the losing side in a Sheffield derby, who emerged the hero as he first palmed away a Gerald Sibon 20-yard drive in the 79th minute - Wednesday's first shot on goal.

With the last effort of the game the visitors should have stolen the points, but Tracey brilliantly blocked Ekoku's point-blank effort to ensure honours ended even.