NIGELS CALL FOR BLADES TO STEP UP
Clough’s irritated at lost points
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