Bakayoko with the only goal on a memorable night...A beaming Jon Whitney heaped praise on his players after the Saddlers’ “stupendous” 1-0 victory at high-flying Sheffield United.
Amadou Bakayoko’s 42nd-minute goal – his seventh of an impressive breakthrough season – earned Walsall a shock win at Bramall Lane, ending the Blades’ 15-match unbeaten league run.
United certainly had their chances – the best of which fell to local lad Billy Sharp on 84 minutes when his weak penalty was saved by Neil Etheridge.
Sharp also had a stoppage-time goal disallowed for handball, as Whitney’s men held on for a memorable result.
“It was stupendous,” said a delighted Whitney. “I am so proud of my players and so pleased for them.
“I saw how much it hurt last week [after the defeat at Rochdale] – it hurt all of us. For us to move forward, we had to reflect on things, ask why it felt like it did and how it feels tonight.
“You have to celebrate nights like this. Sometimes you have to leave it out on the pitch and when you can do that, you can match anybody.
“We matched them up with a back three and I said ‘listen, I believe in you guys’. In the second half we came under a lot of pressure but they’re a good team. We rode our luck a little bit but we deserved to.
“The way they put their bodies on the line was so pleasing. I’m so proud of my staff and my players. We won’t get carried away but it’s great to show the players what happens they put the graft in.
“We can’t match Sheffield United in a lot of areas. We can’t match them financially, or with their stadium and massive fanbase, but we can match them with desire and passion, a bit of sacrifice physically, and we did that tonight.
“I’m pleased for the fans who came – it was great for them to see that. It was great to clap them at the end for coming over on a cold night, and thank you to all of them for supporting us.”