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BBC Sport's Alan Biggs
"It just shows that form counts for nothing in derbies"
 real 14k

Sunday, 1 April, 2001, 17:57 GMT
Asaba swings steel city derby
Carl Asaba puts United 2-0 up at Hillsborough
Carl Asaba heads home United's winner
Carl Asaba and Laurent D'Jaffo attained hero status with Sheffield United fans by scoring the goals to settle the 100th Steel City league derby.

The second-half double from the Blades strikers ended a run of three successive defeats for Neil Warnock's side, who refuse to give up on their First Division play-off dream.

Gerald Sibon scored his 12th goal of the season with an absolute screamer of a volley, but it came too late to spare Wednesday from suffering only their second loss in nine matches.

It was a second half in total contrast to a virtually chanceless first 45 minutes, for although the passion was palpable among the supporters and the commitment evident on the pitch, both combined led to a typically frenetic encounter with opportunities at a premium.

Daring runs

It was more like headless chickens stuff, with both sides desperate not to lose or make a mistake at any costs, so it was unfortunate the best player on view, Owls winger Alan Quinn, was stretchered off.

The Republic of Ireland Under-21 youngster's daring runs at the United defence were the main highlights of the opening half, his energy and spirit overshadowing many of his more experienced team-mates and opponents.

Quinn was involved in the two bookings of that first half, initially for his foul on Paul Devlin and then moments later when Bobby Ford brought him down just outside the Blades box.

Sibon's subsequent free-kick clipped a post, although a linesman was already flagging for offside when the ball was delivered into the area.

That was as close as Wednesday came, with the home side losing Quinn in the 37th minute following what appeared to be an innocuous challenge from United skipper Keith Curle.

Des Walker was left to rue his slip
Walker was caught out for United's opening goal

They also lost their way at the start of the second period, with the normally reliable Des Walker in particular providing the error which led to D'Jaffo's goal.

It was route one stuff as Asaba capitalised on Owls skipper Walker's slip on the edge of the area following Simon Tracey's long punt forward.

Asaba's lay off was simple and effective, setting up Frenchman D'Jaffo for the first-time strike beyond Pressman from 15 yards and in front of the 8,000 United supporters in the Leppings Lane stand.

D'Jaffo's muted celebrations in scoring his fifth goal of the season were in stark contrast to the red-and-white army amassed behind Pressman, because to them the goal meant everything.

In the 71st minute Asaba, a pre-deadline day signing from Gillingham and a bargain at just 92,500, scored his second goal in four matches for United - and his second at Hillsborough in a month after netting for the Gills in a 2-1 defeat.

Stunning strike

Ford's ball from the centre circle found Devlin out wide and his subsequent cross was glanced home by Asaba beyond the despairing dive of Pressman.

Six minutes later, Sibon gave Wednesday fans in the 38,433 crowd - a Nationwide League-best attendance - hope with a stunning strike.

The rangy Dutchman somehow clawed out of the air Trond Soltvedt's rifled cross, and although off balance he struck a thunderous volley past the helpless Tracey.

It proved in vain, though, as Wednesday's sparkling run of six wins and a draw in the last eight matches, which had lifted them off the foot of Division One and clear of the relegation zone, came to an end.

Wednesday still need one more victory to guarantee their safety, while United are now five points adrift of the play-off zone after their 38th league derby victory in comparison to the Owls' 31.


Sheff Wed: Pressman, Walker, Westwood, Bromby, Soltvedt, Quinn, Sibon, Lescott, Palmer, Ekoku, De Bilde. Subs: Stringer, Haslam, Harkness, Ripley, Di Piedi.

Sheff Utd: Tracey, Kozluk, Ullathorne, Murphy, Curle, Bullock, Devlin, Ford, Ndlovu, D'Jaffo, Asaba. Subs: Suffo, Kelly, Uhlenbeek, Thetis, Montgomery.

Referee: G Barber (Tring)

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