Blades 2-0 Walsall - report
Blades 2-0 Walsall - match report
The Blades made it three successive home wins with an impressive display against third-placed Walsall, who suffered only their second away defeat of the campaign.
First half goals from Chris Basham and Billy Sharp - five minutes apart saw the Blades rise to eighth in the table.
Defenders Baptiste and Edgar returned to the starting XI with youngsters Whiteman and McGahey dropping to the bench. There was also a change in role for Basham, who began at right wing-back.
The opening 20 minutes was a case of both sides sizing each other up, both goalkeepers were largely redundant, although Etheridge did dive when Adams shot wide. For the visitors, Demetriou's free-kick struck the wall.
Twice in one move the Blades went close on 25 minutes. Flynn found Done on the overlap but the left-sided player's shot was saved by Etheridge and from recycled possession Adams shot over.
It was a sign that United were getting on top and the opening goal was not too far away, thanks to the wing-backs. Done's deep cross between defence and goalkeeper was teasing and BASHAM arrived at the back post to head into the roof of the net.
Mantom fired at Long from 25 yards but with the next attack the Blades doubled the lead. Basham got the better of Henry on the right and although his cross was meant for Flynn, SHARP found the space to volley home from 12 yards, giving Etheridge little chance.
Late in the half the opportunities were also being created by United. The all-action Basham fired wide and Sharp's header from Done was hacked clear.
The first chance of the second half also fell to Basham, he volleyed over after a Coutts cross was only half cleared, whilst for the visitors Bradshaw was crowded out in the box following a corner.
Hammond was booked and McGahey replaced Baptiste but the Blades remained in control as the game opened up. Coutts delivered a couple of free-kicks and Adams threatened to get clear with his pace.
As the game entered the final 15 minutes Forde fired wide from outside the box, he then hit a free-kick into the wall - twice - after McEveley fouled Sawyers.
In injury-time Pennington headed over as the Blades professionally saw out the remaining moments and there was another opportunity to extend the advantage when Flynn, Sharp and Calvert-Lewin won possession but a corner was the end result, just moments before the final whistle.
Blades: Long, Basham, Flynn, Coutts, Sharp, Done (Woolford 88), McEveley, Baptiste (McGahey 56), Adams (Calvert-Lewin 90), Edgar, Hammond.
Unused: Howard, Woolford, Reed, Whiteman, Kelly.
Walsall: Etheridge, Demetriou, Taylor (Forde 74), Pennington, Downing, Chambers, Mantom (Lalkovic 74), Bradshaw, Sawyers, Henry, Flanagan (Hiwula 45).
Unused: McGillivray, Preston, Morris, Kinsella.