Blades in Boare Draw

Last updated : 09 November 2002 By @blades_mad1889

Michael Brown (left) of Sheffield United in action against Ipswich Town's Jamie Clapham, during their Nationwide Division One match at United's Bramall Lane ground.
New Ipswich boss Joe Royle looks to have moulded a tough-to-beat side as the Tractor Boys earned a creditable point at Bramall Lane.

United had not won any of their last three league games and Ipswich had just one point from their last four matches, so perhaps a goalless draw should have been expected.

Darren Bent came closest to scoring with a first-half shot which struck the post as Royle claimed his first league point since taking over at Portman Road.

Sheffield United midfielder Phil Jagielka, scorer of a stunning long-range goal against Leeds in the Worthington Cup in midweek, miscued when he attempted a repeat effort in this match.

The game was struggling to come to life, though Bent wasted a good opportunity for the visitors 12 minutes in when he dragged a right-foot shot wide from the edge of the area.

The Blades began to push forward but the better chances were being created by Ipswich and centre-back John McGreal was allowed to advance unchallenged towards the goal, though his shot from 20 yards sailed just over the crossbar.

United were forced into an early substitution when Wayne Allison had to come off in the 25th minute, Laurens Ten Heuvel replacing him in attack.

The sub was involved straightaway, playing his part in a spot of head tennis which led to Paul Peschisolido sending a looping header goalwards only for Town goalkeeper Andy Marshall to claw it out superbly.

Ipswich responded through Bent seconds later, who pulled a cross-shot wide.

He was sent clear once more in the 33rd minute by full-back Chris Makin's excellent through-ball and again shot across goal. This time he was even closer, his shot coming back off the upright.

Iceland international Hermann Hreidarsson tried his luck seconds later with a right-footer from 18 yards which flew low and wide.

It was all Ipswich now and captain Matt Holland volleyed wide after a deflected Mark Venus shot had broken kindly for him.

United full-back Jon Harley, on loan from Fulham, then had to pull off a diving block to prevent Bent from opening the scoring with two minutes to go to half-time.

The first chance of the second half came United's way in the 53rd minute when Harley advanced down the left and crossed for Ten Heuvel, but his header from close to the penalty spot sailed over the top.

Bent was still a menace and his pass inside from the left two minutes later found Hreidarsson in space 18 yards out, but the defender-turned-midfielder hesitated and lost possession.

United were beginning to take control and Australian defender Shaun Murphy headed wide from young midfielder Michael Tonge's right-wing corner.

Jim Magilton curled over a free-kick for Ipswich as the pendulum swung again. Defender Mark Venus then sent over an inswinging corner in the 67th minute which Nigerian winger Finidi George, on as a substitute for Alun Armstrong, headed straight at a very grateful Kenny from close range.

Jagielka tried his luck from distance with 17 minutes left after being teed up by substitute Carl Asaba, on for Peschisolido.

George then handed Bent a glorious opportunity on 79 minutes when he spotted Bent's run and crossed low from the right, but the striker took too long to apply the finish and allowed Ndlovu to tackle back.

A goal either way now looked like being a winner and when Ndlovu crossed from the right seven minutes from time Ten Heuvel stretched to send a header with Murphy better placed to score behind him.

Hreidarsson almost became the hero when he moved inside and blasted a low foot shot toward the near post in the 87th minute but Kenny managed to get down and push the ball past the post for a corner.