SHEFFIELD UNITED’S chances of sneaking back into the play-off places suffered a setback when they played out a goalless draw against Ipswich Town at Portman Road.
It was a game of few clear-cut chances, with neither side able to muster much in the final third.
“There were two honest teams and both were going for a result but the wicket wasn’t the best,” said Blades boss Chris Wilder.
“It’s uncompromising and relentless is the division, and the schedule, and I thought my players in the second half really dug in and were positive in trying to win the game.
“I think we’ve spurned a couple of chances to win the game and I think if we had got our noses in front I believe we would have won.
“Billy (Sharp) has had a chance in the first half and we’ve hit the post and it’s come back to Billy.
“I’m looking at John Lundstram when he’s in front of goal and he’s tried to square it to Ched (Evans) and (David) Brooks late on and he’s seven or eight yards out on his left foot and he’s tried to put someone else in.
“The final bit decides Championship games but we just keep going - there’s still a lot of games and it’s a huge week for the football club leading up to the international break, with two home games on the trot.”
It meant the Tractor Boys have now failed to score a goal in four straight home games, and left them languishing in 12th place - nine points off a top-six spot - with United ninth, five points adrift of a play-off berth.
Ipswich goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski, who was called up into the Poland international squad this week, had to go down low to save a shot from George Baldock in the second minute.
A minute later the visitors were awarded a free-kick 30 yards out which Lee Evans fired straight at the home stopper.
A flowing move down the left in the sixth minute involving Myles Kenlock and Martyn Waghorn led to the first corner of the match, which came to nothing, and two minutes later a cross-shot from Waghorn went narrowly wide of Jamal Blackman’s right-hand post.
Richard Stearman then held back the Ipswich striker as he was clear on goal which led to him being booked and, from the free-kick, Dominic Iorfa got in a header at the far post which was deflected wide by Blackman.
Then in the 33rd minute the Blades appealed for a penalty following Luke Chambers’ challenge on striker Billy Sharp, but referee John Brooks was not interested.
A minute later Town midfielder Stephen Gleeson shot high over the bar from 30 yards out.
And as the half drew to a close a great cross-field pass from Adam Webster found Waghorn wide right near the visitors’ penalty box. He won a corner which eventually found Bersant Celina, whose cross-shot went wide of the left-hand post.
Sheffield United could not capitalise on a goalmouth scramble in the Ipswich penalty area three minutes into the second half.
Then in the 52nd minute a shot from Celina from outside the penalty area, following good build-up by Myles Kenlock, was parried round by Blackman at his right-hand post.
Cole Skuse latched onto a ball just inside the United half in the 55th minute but his pass to Waghorn failed to find the striker as he was clear on goal.
Blackman then failed to hold a cross from Kenlock in the 63rd minute and, 12 minutes later a timely interception from Ipswich skipper Chambers prevented Sharp from having a clear run at
United substitute James Wilson’s shot from outside the area 15 minutes from time hit Bialkowski’s right-hand post and rebounded to Sharp, who was unable to steer the ball over the goal-line.
Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy said: “I thought it was a right royal scrap from two teams who commit themselves to everything they do.
“Was there a great deal of quality? I’m not sure the pitch gives us the ability to have that quality to be quite honest, it’s not wearing well.
“I thought we were good in the first half, in the second half I thought they were better than us but I’ll take a goalless draw, they can’t take that off us.
“I always take the positives out of it, not the negatives.
“It was not a great pitch - it’s in poor shape at the minute - but it was a tough ferocious game.”