Sheepshanks: We'll do it

DAVID Sheepshanks today insisted: “We'll clinch a play-off place.”The Ipswich chairman is convinced the Blues can secure a Nationwide League First Division top-six spot after the battling Blues survived the cauldron at Bramall Lane last night.

By Elvin King

DAVID Sheepshanks today insisted: “We'll clinch a play-off place.”

The Ipswich chairman is convinced the Blues can secure a Nationwide League First Division top-six spot after the battling Blues survived the cauldron at Bramall Lane last night.

Ian Westlake's leveller enabled Joe Royle's men to secure a 1-1 draw in the crunch clash with Sheffield United.


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Sheepshanks left Bramall Lane in optimistic mood and looking ahead to next Sunday's game at home to Cardiff knowing three points will definitely see the Blues finish the season in the play-offs.

Sheepshanks said: “We stood one test last night, and we have one more in front of us. I firmly believe that we can do it.

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“Manager Joe Royle and his coaching staff have prepared the team in an expert way and Joe has the experience that takes the pressure off the players.

“Hopefully we will have a full house at Portman Road on Sunday with our supporters cheering us on to the play-offs.

“They were magnificent last night and despite the game being shown live on satellite television nearly 2,000 of them travelled to Yorkshire to play their part in the 1-1 draw.”

Ipswich could not afford to lose the match at Bramall Lane and after a rather dull first period they were able to blunt the Blades' threat thanks to three fine saves by Kelvin Davis and an equalising goal from young Ian Westlake.

That was after Andy Gray had given Sheffield the lead from the penalty spot following a foul by Fabian Wilnis on Michael Tonge.

Sheepshanks, who has seen the club suffer severe financial difficulties following relegation from the Premiership in 2002, knows the importance of a return to the top flight.

It has been a topsy-turvy campaign but at the 11th hour Ipswich still have their future in their own hands.

And the chairman said: “We all know what result is needed next week, and I am sure we are more than equal to the task against Cardiff.

“In the first-half last night it was like a game of chess and very intense to such an extent that I was shaking in my seat.

“After the interval it became blood and thunder and play was going from one end to the other.

“Kelvin Davis made three wonder saves and at the end of the day a draw was fair.

“We all felt that we should have had two penalties but we came through a game played in a cauldron and one where Sheffield United rediscovered the atmosphere of last season when they reached two semi-finals of major cup competitions.

“There is a feeling of sheer resilience in the camp engendered by Joe Royle, coach Willie Donachie and the rest of the staff and this was shown when we came back from conceding the penalty to take charge of the game and show some real quality.”

Tommy Miller went off early with a suspected sciatica problem, although he should be fit for the weekend.

And there were no other injuries with Royle hoping to have a full squad to choose from against the Bluebirds.

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