This was a replay decided by two penalties. Don Hutchison aimed for the corner and scored while Ipswich's David Johnson tried the same and hit the post. The line between success and failure was thin to near negligible at Bramall Lane, as it tends to be when these teams meet.
Only away goals in Sheffield's favour split them after 210 minutes play in the First Division play-offs last spring and United had not beaten Ipswich properly since January 1993. The scorer of a hat-trick that day was Brian Deane, a sore point with the Blades' supporters as he and Jan Age Fjortoft were sold last month.
Still, who needs strikers if fortune has taken up residence in dressing- room as it did in United's case last night. Apart from Johnson's miss, James Scowcroft had a header cleared off the line and even in injury time his curling shot from 35 yards almost caught Simon Tracey off his line.
The decisive moment came early. Mauricio Taricco had shaved a post for Ipswich after five minutes and the Argentinian was rueing his luck even more seven minutes later when he was adjudged to have pushed Marcelo in the area. Hutchison, who had not scored for 15 months, beat Richard Wright's dive with a low shot to the goalkeeper's right.
Wright made two point-blank saves from Dean Saunders and Marcelo and when Ipswich got a penalty two minutes before the interval a turning point appeared to have arrived. The former Bury striker struck the post and then added idiocy to inaccuracy by trying to turn in the rebound that would not have counted even if he had not fired wide.
The second half was a succession of Ipswich attacks, the most potent was a header from Scowcroft after 57 minutes that Graham Stuart, an FA Cup winner with Everton, headed off the line.
The last real chance came four minutes later when Kieron Dyer's shot was blocked by the charging United goalkeeper and although the Ipswich players believed he had used his arms the only repercussion was a booking for Geraint Williams for protesting.
Sheffield United (4-4-2): Tracey; Short (Quinn, 58), Holdsworth, Nilsen, Sandford; Stuart, Ford, Marker, Hutchison; Saunders, Marcelo (Taylor, 58). Substitutes not used: Beard, Kachuro, Kelly (gk).
Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Wright; Uhlenbeek, Tanner (Petta, 53), Cundy, Taricco; Stockwell, Holland, Williams (Sonner, 89), Dyer; Scowcroft Johnson (Mathie, 53). Substitutes not used: Mowbray, Bracey (gk).
Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).Reuse content