Football: Whitton's last gasp

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The Independent Online
Sheffield United. . .1

Ipswich Town. . . . .1

IF ANYONE deserved reward in a match of contrasting styles and fortunes, it was Ipswich's left- sided midfielder Steve Whitton. But it was a long time coming.

He hit the bar in each half and kept his side in contention when he cleared Jonas Wirmola's header off the line midway through the second period, when another United goal would have settled it. Then, in the last minute, the substitute Simon Milton took advantage of a rare lapse of concentration in United's defence and from his cross Whitton's header trickled in at the near post.

Until then, it had looked as though the Blades, whose season does not usually begin until Christmas, would make it three home wins on the trot. Appropriately, the premature celebrations centred round a man who comes bearing gifts from the frozen north. The Norwegian, Jostein Flo, gave Sheffield the lead after 24 minutes when Craig Forrest parried Andy Scott's header and he stuck in the rebound.

Flo's knockdowns made United's direct approach more effective than Town's patient build- ups, which too often broke down in over-elaboration, but Whitton's perseverance paid off in the end.

Sheffield United (4-4-2): A Kelly; K Gage (M Ward, 81 min), J Pemberton, J Wirmola, P Beesley; C Bradshaw, C Kamara, W Falconer, D Whitehouse; J Flo, A Scott (A Cork, 80 min). Sub not used: S Tracey (gk). Manager: D Bassett.

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): C Forrest; F Yallop (S Milton, 75 min) J Wark, D Linighan, N Thompson; M Stockwell, G Williams, S Palmer, S Whitton; P Goddard (B Genchev, 75 min) C Kiwomya. Sub not used: C Baker (gk). Manager: M McGiven.

Referee: P Foakes (Clacton).

Goals: Flo (1-0, 24 min); Whitton (1-1, 90 min).