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Saturday, 17 August, 2002, 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
Sheff Utd 1-1 Walsall

Both sides were left ruing missed opportunities after an entertaining draw at Bramall Lane.

Loan signing John Paul McGovern opened his Sheffield United account five minutes before half-time, cancelling out Walsall's early advantage.

After dominating the opening stages, the Blades looked to be heading in behind at the break after a defensive slip-up had let in Steve Corica to score.

But just before the interval United deservedly hit back when McGovern - on loan from Celtic - rifled home.

The Saddlers began brightly and tested the home defence as early as the third minute when Mark Wright fired in a powerful drive that forced Shaun Murphy to hack clear.

But United soon began to control the pattern of the game.

After eight minutes, the ball broke kindly for striker Carl Asaba in the box but he blasted wide with only goalkeeper James Walker to beat.

And six minutes later the same player was tormenting the Saddlers defence again when his deft chip was hooked away by Ian Roper.

United were keeping possession well with youngster Michael Brown pulling the strings from midfield.

But just five minutes after he had fizzed a stinging left-footed drive past the post, Shaun Murphy's defensive lapse gifted the visitors the lead.

With time to measure his clearance, the Australian centre-back fired the ball straight into the path of countryman Corica, who raced in on goal to slot low past the advancing Paddy Kenny.

Undeservedly behind, United pressed forward in search of a response.

And after Ben Doane had fired a vicious inswinging free-kick dangerously close, they finally levelled when McGovern hammered Robert Kozluk's cross high into the net.

Colin Lee's half-time plans were disrupted when Danny Hay picked up an injury.

It was nearly worse for Lee when Asaba, relishing his new partnership with Allison, volleyed narrowly over from 18 yards.

Warnock rolled the dice on the hour and replaced the influential Brown with Peter Ndlovu, hoping Zimbabwean could repeat his midweek goalscoring form.

But it was Corica who seemed most likely to find the net and only a last-ditch tackle by Shaun Murphy denied the midfielder a certain second.

Desperate for the three points, Warnock withdrew Allison and McGovern, who were replaced by French striker Jean-Phillipe Javary and Dutchman Laurens Ten Heuvel.

The gamble almost paid off immediately, but Ten Heuvel's stinging shot from distance was well-held by Walker, who was again called on to deny Ndlovu.


Sheff Utd: Kenny, Kozluk, Yates, Murphy, Doane, McGovern, Brown, Jagielka, Tonge, Asaba, Allison. Subs: Cryan, Javary, Ndlovu, Onuora, Ten Heuvel.

Walsall: Walker, Bazeley, Hay, Roper, Aranalde, Wrack, Sonner, Corica, Birch, Wright, Leitao. Subs: Herivelto, Ward, Barras, Martinez, Bishop.

Referee: C Webster (Tyne & Wear).

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Sheff Utd boss Neil Warnock
"We had two great chances"

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