Blades 1-0 Walsall - match report
Nick Blackman's seventh goal of the season - an early penalty - was enough to secure a vital home win for the Blades.
The striker netted after Dean Holden pulled down Dave Kitson, with the Walsall defender receiving his marching orders for the tackle.
The victory stretched United's unbeaten league start to 14 games and ended a spell of four consecutive home draws.
Manager Wilson named an unchanged squad - the starting XI and substitutes - for Walsall's visit, which meant Collins remained on the bench. The visiting team included former Blade, Taylor, whilst Purkiss, a Shirecliffe Academy graduate, was among the Saddlers replacements.
Unusually kicking towards the Kop in the first half, the Blades saw a lot of early possession, a stream of passes winning applause from the crowd on a couple of occasions before the first serious talking point arose on 14 minutes. Baxendale's wayward back-pass only found Kitson, who was through on goal, but just as he was about to unleash a shot his legs were taken by Holden. The penalty was given, the Walsall number five received a straight red card and BLACKMAN stepped up to slot home, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
United almost returned the favour when McDonald's back-pass to Long was underhit, fortunately the young goalkeeper was on his guard to prevent Grigg levelling. As the half progressed, possession was bossed by the team in red and white but the next good chance fell to the visitors.
On 38 minutes, Cuvelier beat Williams down the wing and the subsequent pull-back was perfect for Grigg but his shot was brilliantly tipped away by Long, who recovered quickly to snuff out the follow up from Paterson. The Kop's last song of the half was to repeat the teenage stopper's name and just before the break, from a Williams cross, Kitson fouled Butler as his header forced a save out of goalkeeper Darlow.
The first chance of the second period fell to the Blades - a patient passing move from left to right resulted in space opening up for McMahon, but he fired just over.
Wilson's first change was to switch McAllister with Cofie, who headed wide a Williams cross soon after, whilst for the visitors Cuvelier half-volleyed wide. The Blades hit back with shots from McDonald and Williams and a spell of possession.
Miller replaced Blackman with a quarter of the match remaining and immediately forced a save from Darlow, after springing the offside trap to race on to a Doyle pass. Kitson was shown a yellow card for a collision with Butler and Walsall used up all their substitutions before the final ten minutes.
United's last change was Porter on for the tiring Kitson and the substitute added energy in the closing minutes but his strike partner, Miller almost got around the back of the Walsall defence on a couple of occasions but he was unable to extend the lead.
Skipper and defender Butler added himself to the Walsall attack late on as four added minutes was signalled but the Blades comfortably held on to claim three vital points.
Blades: Long, Maguire, Hill, Flynn, Doyle, Blackman (Miller 68), McDonald, Kitson (Porter 80), McAllister (Cofie 55), McMahon, Williams.
Unused: Westlake, Collins, Cresswell, Willis.
Walsall: Darlow, Taundry, Butler, Holden, Featherstone, Chambers, Cuvelier, Grigg (Bowerman 77), Paterson (Hemmings 65), Baxendale (Downing 15), Taylor.
Unused: Grof, Brandy, Purkiss, Jones.