BLADES’ PORTER PROVES A PARTY POOPER
WALSALL ........1 SHEFF UTD ......1 United level late to deny Walsall victory
SHEFFIELD UNITED sub Chris Porter proved the party-pooper as his equaliser blew out the candles on Walsall’s birthday cake – but a point apiece did neither side’s cause any favours.
Having completely bossed the first hour, the play-off chasing Saddlers – celebrating their 125th anniversary on the day – missed a great chance to go level on points with sixth-placed Swindon.
And while United were grateful for the point, they nonetheless slipped further behind top two Doncaster and Bournemouth in the race for automatic promotion.
Blades boss Danny Wilson said:“Away from home, staring at no points, we’ve got one so we’ve got to be thankful for small mercies.Who knows what that point might mean at the end of the season?
“It was the proverbial game of two halves.We never got a grip in the first half, looked anxious, didn’t handle the pitch well at all and allowed Walsall too much space.
“There had to be one or two choice words at half-time because I was very, very angry with the performance, particularly given the position we are in, but second half we got a great response.
“We’ve got to be more forceful in our approach and not be timid and wait for things to happen – we’ve really got to clench our fists and go at teams in the six games we have left.”
Walsall dominated the first half and, after Febian Brandy dragged a great chance wide, they went ahead a minute from the break as Craig Westcarr turned neatly to fire into the bottom corner.
Brandy had two great one-on-one chances to double Walsall’s lead early in the second half but dragged one offtarget and overran the other, allowing keeper George Long to get a vital touch.
And they were made to pay for those misses as Kevin McDonald’s 20-yarder hit both posts and was poked home by Porter a yard out to earn United a point.
Walsall boss Dean Smith, though, was more concerned with a bad act of sportsmanship from the striker moments earlier that he classed as the game’s pivotal moment.
The Saddlers had kicked the ball out of play on the halfway line after a Blades facial injury but Porter booted the dropped ball deep into Walsall territory, earning the ire of Smith.
He said: “The momentum changed when their centre-forward didn’t give us the ball back and they ended up having a shot from outside the box. Emotionally, it upset our players and they took control from there.
“It was disappointing and I felt it changed the momentum of the game but to be fair to the lad, he apologised as he was coming off.
“There’s a feeling in the dressing room as though we’ve been beaten because we should have been out of sight with the chances we had. On another day, Febian scores two or three. “But it’s 13 games unbeaten now, which is a fantastic achievement and we’ve still got something to play for with three games to go.”