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16:50 20th December 2014

Blades 1-1 Walsall - report

Despite the cup heroics, the Blades are still trying to find a formula to pick up home wins in the league.

Chris O'Grady's first Blades goal gave Nigel Clough's side the lead in the final game before Christmas but Walsall levelled through Tom Bradshaw.

The Blades were the aggressors for the majority of the game but were unable to claim a winner.

United's team showed four changes - Scougall, Baxter and O'Grady returned, whilst Adams made his first Sky Bet League One appearance after impressing in the Capital One Cup quarter-final in midweek. Reed and Campbell-Ryce missed out, whilst McNulty and Cuvelier dropped to the bench.

Baxter partnered O'Grady in attack as the Blades began with an orthodox 4-4-2 formation and both were to feature quite heavily in the first half, although chances were not particularly fruitful.

The first of the day was for visitors but Basham prevented Bradshaw's shot from troubling Howard. A couple of Flynn crosses then put United on the offensive in the space of a couple of minutes. His first found Baxter unmarked but he headed over and the second resulted in a shot from O'Grady being deflected to make it easy for goalkeeper O'Donnell.

Around the half hour a Harris cross found Scougall but his header was comfortably saved by the visiting goalkeeper, whilst a rare Walsall attack saw Cook's free-kick strike the Blades wall.

Close to half-time O'Grady headed Baxter's free-kick over the crossbar and there was a cheer from the crowd - all stands - when referee Horwood was replaced by fourth official Wootton.

In first half injury-time, which came about by the change of official, the Blades went mightily close to opening the scoring but following good interchange play, Adams laid off to Baxter, whose deflected shot struck the crossbar.

McGahey replaced the injured Flynn at half-time and United again started positively, there were a number of forays into the Walsall half before the opening goal on 56 minutes. Baxter threaded a pass down the side of the visiting defence and O'GRADY picked his moment before beating O'Donnell at his near post.

United's lead, however, lasted just three minutes as Walsall netted with their next attack. Cook's cross from the left found BRADSHAW in a pocket of space and the subsequent header wrong-footed Howard, dropping into the bottom corner of the net.

Walsall went close to adding a second on 64 minutes but Cook's cross-shot was kicked over his own crossbar by Harris, whilst United hit back with two long-range efforts from Baxter and Harris, both of which went close.

Walsall's Bradshaw flashed a shot across goal following a break and United threw on McNulty for the final 15 minutes. Adams wanted but was denied a penalty after a clash with Henry, the full debutant was replaced soon after by Cuvelier, who came close to attaching himself to a deep O'Grady cross on 86 minutes.

Late on Walsall were content to keep possession and slow the action down to protect a point. A shot from O'Grady was saved and four minutes of injury time produced two corners but the Blades were unable to find an elusive second.

Blades: Howard, Harris, Basham, Flynn (McGahey 45), Doyle, Murphy, Scougall, Baxter (McNulty 75), McEveley, Adams (Cuvelier 84), O'Grady.
Unused: Higdon, Turner, McCarthy, Wallace.

Walsall: O'Donnell, Purkiss, Downing, A. Chambers, Bradshaw, Sawyers (Grimes 85), Baxendale (Forde 56), Cain, J. Chambers, Cook (Benning 76), Henry.
Unused: O'Connor, MacGillivray, Flanagan,Manset.