The Blades host the Saddlers this evening...
The Saddlers travel to Bramall Lane for the second time this season to take on promotion-hopefuls Sheffield United, in what is our game in hand. Jon Whitney’s men ran out 2-1 winners when the teams met in a Checkatrade Trophy clash in October, courtesy of goals from Scott Laird and Amadou Bakayoko. Third-placed Sheff Utd, now managed by boyhood Blade Chris Wilder, are unbeaten in their last 15 league matches, a run stretching back to August. United will climb above Bolton and into the top two with a win, while victory for Walsall would put us joint 14th.
Sheff Utd: 3rd – P19 W11 D5 L3 F34 A21 PTS38
17th – P19 W5 D8 L6 F22 A28 PTS23
26th November – Charlton 1-1 Sheff Utd – League One
Sheffield United were denied all three points at Charlton after Patrick Bauer’s stoppage-time equaliser rescued the Addicks a dramatic draw. Chris Wilder’s side took the lead just past the half-hour mark, when Mark Duffy lifted a right-footed shot over Dillon Phillips from John Fleck’s clever free-kick. United could have extended their advantage, with Billy Sharp, Fleck, Duffy and Caolan Lavery each going close. And the Blades were made to pay for their profligacy when Bauer bundled home Adam Chicken’s 93rd-minute free-kick.
26th November – Walsall 0-0 Southend – League
Walsall stayed 17th in League One after being held to an entertaining goalless draw with in-form Southend. The Saddlers, much improved from the midweek reverse at Rochdale, twice rattled the woodwork in the first half through Andreas Makris’ near-post flick and Scott Laird’s deflected cross. The play-off chasing Shrimpers also had their chances, with Nile Ranger, Stephen McLaughlin and Anthony Wordsworth each thwarted by home custodian Neil Etheridge.
Walsall wins: 8
Sheff Utd wins: 13
4th October – Sheff Utd 1-2 Walsall – Checkatrade Trophy
Walsall secured their place in the second round of the Checkatade Trophy with victory at Sheffield United. Scott Laird’s 16th-minute tap-in put the Saddlers ahead before Bakayoko fired home his fourth goal in two Trophy matches on 66 minutes. Paul Coutts pulled one back for United late on, but Jon Whitney’s side held on to make it back-to-back wins in Northern Group H.
Sheff Utd Manager: Chris Wilder
A boyhood Blades fan, the 49-year-old replaced Nigel Adkins as Sheffield United manager in May 2016 after leaving Northampton, where he won the League Two title last season. Wilder, who was named the 2015/16 LMA League Two Manager of the Year, led Oxford to promotion from the Conference in 2009/10 and has also managed Halifax and Alfreton.
Sheff Utd Star Man: Billy Sharp
With 12 goals in 19 league games, the prolific Sheffield-born frontman is League One’s joint-second top scorer – level with Bristol Rovers’ Matty Taylor and behind only Scunthorpe’s Josh Morris. Now into his third spell at Bramall Lane, the 30-year-old finished as the Blades’ leading marksman last term, netting 21 goals, including United’s first in a 2-0 victory over Walsall in April. A seasoned striker, Sharp won promotion with both Scunthorpe and Southampton, and has twice been named in the League One PFA Team of the Year.
Saddlers boss Jon Whitney has confirmed that defender Kevin Toner, who was substituted at half-time against Southend due to fatigue, is available for tonight’s Bramall Lane clash. Maz Kouhyar and Reece Flanagan remain on the sidelines.
In the 17 matches he has refereed this season, the South Yorkshire-based official has brandished 47 yellow cards and five red, awarding seven penalties. England’s last Walsall game came just over a month ago – the Erhun Oztumer-inspired 2-0 victory at Swindon.
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