NIGELS CALL FOR BLADES TO STEP UP

Clough’s ir­ri­tated at lost points

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Stephen Thirkill

NIGEL Clough says Sh­effield United must learn to turn draws into wins after they were held at home to Walsall.

United were pegged back to a 1-1 draw against a rock-solid Walsall side just days after they pro­gressed into the Cap­i­tal One Cup semi-fi­nal by dump­ing out Premier League Southamp­ton.

Blades, who are now eight points adrift of MK Dons in the au­to­matic pro­mo­tion spot, hit the front through Chris O’Grady’s 56th-minute goal.

But res­o­lute Walsall re­fused to go down and lev­elled three min­utes later when Tom Bradshaw bagged his 11th of the sea­son.

“The only down­side is that they equalised,” Clough said. “It is dis­ap­point­ing that we did not build on our mid­week cup win, but it is im­por­tant that we did not lose.

“Teams are go­ing to come here and sit back, they have been do­ing that all sea­son and we have to learn to turn draws into wins.

“We have to learn to break teams down and nor­mally that comes with us get­ting the first goal

“We are not los­ing games at the mo­ment and that shows we are not far off where we want to be. It is all about fine mar­gins.

“I thought Chris O’Grady was ex­cel­lent and hope­fully his goal will kick­start the rest of his sea­son.

“There are a lot of big games com­ing up, that comes with pres­sure and ex­pec­ta­tion. The next few weeks will be all about grind­ing re­sults out.”

Walsall boss Dean Smith was de­lighted by his side’s fight­ing spirit as they showed why they have the best de­fence in the league.

He said: “The re­sult was bet­ter than the per­for­mance. I thought we were waste­ful in pos­ses­sion at times, es­pe­cially dur­ing the first half and that put more pres­sure on us.

“There are a lot of teams in this di­vi­sion who can trou­ble you and Sh­effield United are a good team with some good play­ers.

“Any time you come away from Bra­mall Lane with a point it has got to be a bonus.I am sat­is­fied with the point.

“We are full of con­fi­dence at the mo­ment and are on a good run.The play­ers all want to take re­spon­si­bil­ity and that is very pleas­ing.The squad is grow­ing up.

“We have got plenty of young play­ers who are do­ing well at the mo­ment. It is a good mix we have and the ex­pe­ri­ence of the Cham­bers twins is also rub­bing off on the lads.”

The Sad­dlers could count them­selves lucky on 14 min­utes when an un­marked Jamie Murphy headed over the bar from eight yards with the game’s first chance.

The vis­i­tors con­tin­ued to frus­trate cup-kings United at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity with Adam Cham­bers an­chor­ing well in mid­field and Paul Down­ing and James Cham­bers look­ing solid in the heart of the de­fence.

Jor­dan Cook then saw a 25-yard free-kick blocked for a cor­ner on 34 min­utes in a half with very lit­tle chances for ei­ther side.

United be­gan to pile on the pres­sure and Walsall again had a let off on 42 min­utes as O’Grady headed waste- fully over fol­low­ing poor mark­ing at a set-piece.

Jose Baxter then hit the bar for United deep in to first-half stop­page time after a mazy run through the mid­field.

The pres­sure fi­nally told as O’Grady slot­ted home beau­ti­fully after a clin­i­cal through ball from Baxter on 56 min­utes played him clean through.

But Walsall came up with the per­fect re­sponse just three min­utes later when Bradshaw stole in un­marked to head home.

United pushed for the win­ner and came close when Bob Har­ris cracked a fierce ef­fort inches over the bar on 69 min­utes.

Bradshaw then flashed an ef­fort just wide from a nar­row an­gle after Walsall hit United on the counter at­tack.

Jay McEver­ley headed wide at the back post in the dy­ing stages as Walsall with­stood late pres­sure to hold out for a de­served point.

OPENER: Chris O’Grady grabs the first goal of the game for Sh­effield United

STAR MAN ADAM CHAMB

ERS Wal­sal

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