A trip to Bramall Lane...
Saturday, 2nd April 2016 (Kick-off 3.00pm)
Sky Bet League One
Walsall return to league action after a two-week absence looking to build on a run of three successive wins under head coach Jon Whitney. Three points will be the target again this weekend as we attempt to reel in Burton and Wigan, the two teams above us in the table. The Saddlers are six points off the automatic promotion places, albeit with two games in hand, heading into tomorrow’s match against Nigel Adkins’ mid-table Sheffield United. The Blades, currently 13th and nine points off the top six, were the division’s pre-season title favourites but have lacked the consistency required to mount a genuine promotion challenge.
Sheff Utd: 13th – P39 W15 D10 L14 F56 A53 PTS55
Walsall: 3rd – P37 W19 D11 L7 F57 A38 PTS68
LAST FIVE LEAGUE MATCHES: (Most recent match first)
Sheff Utd: LWLWD
LAST TIME OUT:
30th March – Southend 3-1 Sheff Utd – League One
Sheffield United’s play-off hopes suffered a blow as they lost at Southend. Tyrone Barnett put Southend ahead, Dean Hammond headed the Blades level, but well-taken second-half goals from David Worrall and Jack Payne sealed the win.
Team: Long, Basham, McGahey, McEveley, Flynn, Whiteman (Sammon 84’), Hammond (Calvert-Lewin 74’), Coutts (Woolford 88’), Done, Adams, Sharp. Subs not used: Howard, Reed, Kelly, Brooks.
19th March – Walsall 2-1 Colchester – League One
Late goals from Tom Bradshaw and Matt Preston gave Walsall a dramatic win over struggling Colchester. Alex Gilbey’s first-half header appeared to have earned the visitors victory, only for Bradshaw to level on 89 minutes and Preston to hammer home a stoppage-time winner.
Team:Etheridge, Demetriou, Taylor, O’Connor (Preston 18’), Downing, Mantom, Bradshaw, Sawyers, Henry (Lalkovic 66’), Kinsella (K Morris 66’), Hiwula.
Subs not used: MacGillivray, Forde, Flanagan, B Morris.
Sheff Utd wins: 12
Walsall wins: 7
21st November 2015 – Walsall 1-1 Sheff Utd – League One
Walsall were forced to settle for a point despite dominating for long periods against promotion-rivals Sheffield United. The Saddlers bossed the opening period, with Paul Downing and Milan Lalkovic each rattling the woodwork. Tom Bradshaw’s 51st-minute tap-in deservedly put the hosts ahead, but Jose Baxter equalised midway through the second half with an accurate low strike.
SHEFF UTD MANAGER:
Nigel Adkins – The 51-year-old succeeded Nigel Clough as Blades boss in June 2015. A former physio, Adkins has won promotion from League One three times – twice with Scunthorpe (2007 and 2009) and once with Southampton (2011). The ex-Wigan and Tranmere goalkeeper, who guided Saints to the Premier League in 2012, has also managed Reading and Bangor City.
SHEFF UTD STAR MAN:
Billy Sharp – Now into his third spell at Bramall Lane, the 30-year-old is United’s 17-goal leading marksman this term. A seasoned striker, Sharp worked with Blades boss Nigel Adkins at Scunthorpe and Southampton – winning promotion with both clubs. The Sheffield-born frontman has plundered 168 goals in 423 career appearances and has twice been named in the League One PFA Team of the Year.
VIEW FROM THE SHEFF UTD CAMP:
Nigel Adkins (on the Blades’ defeat at Southend) – "We created opportunities and moved the ball quickly at times. We were disappointed with the first goal we conceded, but reacted positively and got a deserved equaliser. Then we start the second-half on the front foot and we had chances before they score. Towards the end, we threw caution to the wind in a bid to get on level terms and for their third goal we have hit the post from the corner before they break."
WALSALL TEAM NEWS:
Captain Adam Chambers (ankle) could return. James O’Connor (calf) is a doubt. Jordan Cook (hamstring) and Isaiah Osbourne (knee) are both out.
STAT OF THE DAY:
Five of the last seven meetings between Walsall and Sheffield United have ended in 1-1 draws.
TOMORROW’S LEAGUE ONE FIXTURES: (3.00pm unless stated)
Blackpool vs. Southend
Bradford vs. Scunthorpe
Burton vs. Bury
Chesterfield vs. Port Vale
Colchester vs. Millwall
Gillingham vs. Coventry
Peterborough vs. Crewe
Rochdale vs. Doncaster
Shrewsbury vs. Wigan
Swindon vs. Fleetwood