Football: Blades secure point despite departure of goalkeeper

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The Independent Online
Ipswich Town 2

Sheffield United 2

Sheffield United lost their goalkeeper, Simon Tracey, to concussion and were almost left reeling by an Ipswich knock-out blow in a competitive First Division encounter at a wet Portman Road yesterday.

The Blades looked to be in control against a lacklustre Ipswich side, despite the departure of Tracey after he banged his head against a goalpost on the hour. Don Hutchison took over in goal and Mitch Ward, who had come on as a substitute for Tracey, gave his side the lead with a fiercely struck 20-yard volley 11 minutes from time.

The Blades seemed to be strolling towards second place in the table but Ipswich made a timely substitution, with Neil Gregory coming on for the out-of-form Alex Mathie.

Gregory, who hit a hat-trick against United last season, grabbed an equaliser three minutes from time to earn Ipswich a point and improve their plight in the lower reaches of the division. He could have been even more of a hero, but blasted a good chance high over the bar in injury time.

Gareth Taylor gave the Blades a ninth-minute lead when Brian Deane supplied a fine cross and Taylor stole ahead of Jason Cundy to steer the ball past Richard Wright.

The Suffolk side enjoyed a spell of pressure at the start of the second half and were rewarded in the 50th minute when Andy Legg met Mick Stockwell's cross with a diving header for the equaliser. Then came Tracey's accident, followed by Ward's unstoppable volley which put Nigel Spackman's men back in the driving seat.

Ipswich refused to give up, though, and Gregory hauled them level. Ipswich were also denied what looked to be a clear penalty. David Holdsworth dragged down Jason Dozzell in the area - but the referee, Mike Pierce, waved play on.

Spackman, the Blades manager, said: "Simon [Tracey] is not concussed but doesn't really know where he is. He will have a check-up in hospital when we get to Sheffield."

Goals: Taylor (9) 0-1; Legg (50) 1-1; Ward (79) 1-2; Gregory (87) 2-2.

Ipswich Town: Wright; Stockwell, Tanner (Sonner, 68), Williams, Mowbray, Cundy, Dyer, Holland, Mathie (Gregory, 79), Dozzell, Legg. Substitute not used: Milton.

Sheffield United: Tracey (Ward, 60); Borbokis, Hutchison, McGrath, Tiler, Holdsworth, Patterson, Marker, Taylor, Deane, Whitehouse. Substitute not used: Marcello, Fjortoft.

Referee: M Pierce (Portsmouth).

Bookings: Ipswich: Mowbray. Sheffield United: Borbokis, Hutchison, Taylor.

Attendance: 9,695.

Man of the match: Deane.

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