Walsall 1-1 Blades - report
Jose Baxter scored the goal that earned United a deserved point on a cold afternoon at Walsall.
In an entertaining fixture, Baxter's goal saw him join Adams and Sharp as joint leading scorer, whilst Long made a triple save and the Blades had what looked a strong penalty appeal.
Boss Adkins named an unchanged starting XI, the only change was amongst the substitutes where Reed replaced James Wallace.
The tussle to get on top in the opening 20 minutes was undecided, with both sides able to lay claim that they had the better of it, with a number of chances at both ends. Sharp and Adams almost linked up after Coutts broke the line and Long pushed a shot from Evans around a post.
From Hammond winning possession, Baxter's header from Campbell-Ryce's cross was weak, whilst Long, off his line, was confident Bradshaw's chip was drifting wide.
Moments later, though, on 18 minutes, the United goalkeeper was called upon to make an impressive triple save from Morris, Bradshaw and Sawyers, all after Campbell-Ryce did not get the free-kick he thought he deserved.
For the next 15 minutes, Walsall got on top, particularly in terms of chances. Collins blocked from Lalkovic and Long saved from Evans, before twice the home side hit the woodwork. Downing's header from a corner came back off a post and Lalkovic cut inside from the left before smashing against the crossbar with Long beaten.
Late in the half the Blades hit back with a couple of half chances but efforts from Adams and Baxter were both blocked as the scoreline remained blank at the interval.
Within a minute of the restart, Chambers dragged a shot wide but Walsall opened the scoring with their next move. United were unable to keep up with Sawyers and from his cross, BRADSHAW was unmarked to poke home at the back post.
United went close to levelling three minutes later but Etheridge pushed an Adams shot around a post, whilst from the resulting corner, a Collins header was collected by the home goalkeeper.
Just before the hour mark the United players, management and supporters were enraged. Hammond's through ball saw Adams clip the ball over the goalkeeper before appearing to be bundled over by O'Connor just as he was about to score. No penalty was forthcoming.
Walsall appeared to have weathered the storm, a Morris shot was blocked by Collins and Evans shot wide, but the Blades were level on 66 minutes. Sammon, on for a matter of minutes, used his power to put the home defence under pressure and once the ball was recycled from the right, BAXTER perfectly placed into the bottom corner with his left-foot.
After the equaliser, the game was even again, and tense for the supporters. Walsall will argue they had the better of the territorial advantage, and put in a number of crosses and set-pieces, plus an Evans shot which Long gathered at the second attempt.
Inside the final five minutes, Cook curled a free-kick just wide of the near post, which was preceded by three good Blades chances. Etheridge pushed away Baxter's shot after Sammon laid off and the goalkeeper was quickly off his line to block from Adams, who had worked his way around the back of the Walsall defence. Baxter then delivered a free-kick which saw a Collins header also saved.
The action was still frantic as five minutes of added time was announced with yet more crosses from the home side and after some committed defending, the final chance saw O'Connor slice over the crossbar.
At the final whistle there was applause from all corners of the ground after a full-blooded and entertaining game.
Walsall: Etheridge, Demetriou, O'Connor, Downing, Chambers, Bradshaw, Sawyers, Henry, Lalkovic (Cook 81), Morris (Forde 77), Evans.
Unused: Taylor, Baxendale, MacGillivray, Preston, Flanagan.
Blades: Long, Freeman, Harris, Basham, Coutts, Sharp (Sammon 62), Baxter, Collins, Campbell-Ryce (Scougall 72), Adams, Hammond.
Unused: Howard, Done, McEveley, Reed, McGahey.