WILDER’S SICK OF SADDLERS
IF THERE was one silver lining for Blades boss Chris Wilder after this thrashing, it was that his side are unlikely to play Walsall again this season.
Barring a United slump and a Walsall surge resulting in a play-off meeting, the Saddlers will not have chance to improve a record that reads: P3 W3, F7 A2 against Wilder’s men.
A superb second-half Saddlers display completed an unlikely league double over the Blades, in addition to an EFL Trophy triumph.
To put it into context, United have lost only eight times this season – three have been to Walsall.
The Saddlers have ended three separate Blades runs – eight unbeaten, ten unbeaten and now a six-game winning streak.
So it’s little wonder Wilder admitted: “I’m definitely glad to see the back of Walsall!
“We’ve been architects of our own downfall in the way we’ve defended but credit to Walsall. They’ve had two big results against us and we have to take it on the chin.
“These things happen. It would be naive for us to think we are going to cruise through the second part of the season.
“We’ve shown outstanding form, the results have been good, we’ve climbed to the top of the league, deservedly so. And we’ve just had a bad day.
“It’s important the reaction is right and it will be.
“We showed great reactions when we got beat at home by Walsall and I’m confident we will do so going forward.”
Top-scorer Billy Sharp’s clever turn and shot crashed against the bar just four minutes in but Walsall broke away to lead a minute later through Amadou Bakayoko’s cool finish.
The lead lasted five minutes, Ethan Ebanks-Landell nodding a deep free-kick back across goal for defensive colleague Jack O’Connell to head home.
However, Walsall weathered the United storm and regained the lead on the hour, Jason McCarthy squeezing in a finish at Simon Moore’s near post after a one-two with Bakayoko.
Joe Edwards should have had a penalty for handball against O’Connell but made light of it by surging into the area soon after and beating Moore at his near post again.
The keeper’s nightmare concluded on 77 minutes as he felled George Dobson and Erhun Oztumer made it 4-1 from the spot.
Walsall fans chanted ‘can we play you every week?’ and Walsall boss Jon Whitney admitted: “I wish we could perform like that every week!
“That was one of the best performances from a Walsall team since I’ve been at this club and that’s 13 years.
“It’s a rare occurrence when you get every player probably eight or nine out of ten.
“And you need them to be at an eight or nine out of ten to beat a team like Sheffield United.”
STAR MAN JOE EDWARDS Walsall OFF THE MARK: Amadou Bakayoko celebrates Walsall’s first goal