since 1878

Sheffield United (0) 0 - 2 (1) Ipswich Town

Coca-Cola Championship 2004-05

Saturday, February 5, 2005

Referee: Richard Beeby

Manager: Neil Warnock

Bramall Lane 15:00

Attendance: 20,680

Manager: Joe Royle

Match Number: 3093


 David Unsworth (20)
 Shefki Kuqi (61)


MontgomeryQuinn (66)
GearyLiddell (67)
CadamarteriWard (76)























Match Report

Ipswich hold their nerve

“We’ve certainly played better than this,” was the pronouncement of Ipswich manager Joe Royle at the end of a bruising encounter.

“It fell to our keeper to make two terrific saves to keep us in the game. It’s not very often that I get the chance to say I’m pleased about keeping a clean sheet, but our back four was magnificent today.”

Indeed, Kelvin Davis’s superb flying save from Michael Tonge’s free kick within 10 minutes of the restart was probably the game’s turning point.

Sheffield United enjoyed more possession but were unable to convert that pressure into penetration.

“It was an angry half-time,” Royle said. “I told them we’d hardly played at all and our lead was due purely to an excellent goal.”

The focus for that goal was on Portsmouth loan player David Unsworth, who was making his Ipswich debut, but the contribution of Finnish international Shefki Kuqi should not be overlooked.

Kuqi clearly enjoyed returning to the city which had branded him a failure after an ineffectual spell as Wednesday’s striker two seasons ago.

He rode a number of tackles to carry the ball from right to left and slipped it inside United right-back Derek Geary. Unsworth fastened on to it and shot over Paddy Kenny’s head from an oblique angle.

In the second half, Kuqi rubbed salt into the Blades’ wounds by picking up the ball in what appeared to be a blatantly offside position after Ian Westlake’s blast through a crowd of players. It was the simplest of tap-ins but ensured that the Championship leaders stretched their margin to five points.

A Tonge header in the eighth minute fell into Danny Cadamarteri’s path and the former Evertonian wasted a great chance. The crowd showed their disapproval at such a miss in a game in which openings were likely to be few.

After making the early running, with Jim Magilton the prime influence, Ipswich fell away and United looked the more alert side, but it all meant nothing when Unsworth scored his marvellous goal.

United stormed back with Tonge causing all kinds of problems for Tommy Miller and Fabian Wilnis down the right and Jon Harley delivering some telling corners, but Davis’s goal held firm. And that included the second half.

Knowing they had to get back in the game from the restart, United threw their midfield forward, with Tonge once again showing himself to be the player likely to attract Premiership attention if United falter during the final weeks of the season. He must have been the most frustrated man in the ground when Kuqi’s effort was allowed in view of how close he had come to scoring.

Andy Gray also had a good afternoon with one mazy dribble and shot producing another high-quality stop from the Ipswich keeper.

Tonge and United manager Neil Warnock conceded that this was, realistically, the end of United’s automatic promotion hopes.

“We’re in the pack now,” Warnock conceded, “and playing for a place in the playoffs. But we fear nobody and we think we can make it if we get the rub of the green.” Something the Blades had very little of yesterday.

Warnock described himself as “frustrated but not disappointed”. “How could I be when I thought everybody in the team played so well? You can only say that we were up against a world-class goalkeeping display and probably the best I’ve seen at this level for many seasons.”

Royle said: “It’s the best we’ve dealt with an aerial barrage and you have to remember that this is not an easy place to win. It’s such an intimidating place.”

Alan Combes (Times Online)

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2004-05 Reports