Kabba's double keeps Blades top

Sheffield United 2 Ipswich Town 0
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The Independent Online

A fifth successive victory - and this one without the need for their now obligatory last-minute goal - strengthened Sheffield United's position at the top of the Championship yesterday.

The South Yorkshire club had relied on late winners in each of their last two League games. Yet even though Steve Kabba raced on to Alan Quinn's through ball in injury time to continue the trend, it was his sweet strike in the five minute that was the more significant in prolonging Sheffield's unblemished home record.

Ipswich's best chance of becoming the first away side to leave Bramall Lane with as much as a point this season evaporated when Darren Currie's 55th-minute penalty was saved by Paddy Kenny.

Kabba, whose ubiquitous display even saw him concede the spot-kick by tripping Sito Castro, might have had a hat-trick as he relished a slick, wet surface drenched by persistent rain.

For most of the afternoon, though, it was Sito fouling Kabba and if there was any doubt as to the winner of their duel, the Spanish full-back's late dismissal for two bookable fouls on the little forward provided a definitive answer.

The outstanding Kabba made light of Neil Warnock's pre-match lament that he was facing a shortage of strikers, with both Danny Webber and Paul Shaw injured and Andy Gray sold to Sunderland last month.

"Kabba took his goals well," said Warnock, the Sheffield United manager, whose side are now four points clear. "He's playing for the team more than he used to and using his talent. I thought we deserved the win - at times it was the best we've played all season.

"We're playing with a smile on our faces at the moment and we've got a good squad of 19 or 20 and that bit of quality in with the likes of Craig Short and Paul Ifill."

The opening goal came courtesy of a slight deflection off Richard Naylor but there was no doubting the quality of a strike from the corner of the area that whizzed low and fast beyond Lewis Price.

With defeat seemingly inevitable, Ipswich could barely believe their luck when Kabba needlessly conceded the softest of penalties early in the second half but that was before Kenny plunged to his left to save - and hold on to - Currie's spot-kick.

It proved to be their last chance of any note and when Kabba provided the finishing touch late on with his sixth goal of the season it was no more than Sheffield deserved.

"If you got a goal for stringing 10 passes together we'd be top of the league," said Joe Royle, the Ipswich manager. "But it was men against boys for the most part and we wouldn't have scored if we were still out there now."

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