MATCH REPORT | Sheffield United 3 Walsall 2

The Saddlers took on Sheffield United in Round One of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening. Here is our match report.
On Wednesday evening Jon Whitney's Saddlers travelled to Bramall Lane to take on Sheffield United in Round One of this season's Carabao Cup. We were in attendance, and you can read our match report below.

The Blades created the first chance of the match as Mark Duffy played in Nathan Thomas, the former Hartlepool United man couldn't open the scoring as his ball in was gathered by Mark Gillespie in the Walsall goal.

Our hosts enjoyed much of the ball during the early stages of the game, but didn't create many openings as both defences were largely untested.

After twelve minutes of play Saddlers attacker Kieron Morris saw an effort deflect wide of goal off former Everton and Oxford United midfielder John Lundstram following a scramble in his team's area. The Saddlers also had several penalty shouts turned down as referee Kevin Friend was unmoved.

The Saddlers, who by this stage had started to get into the game, didn't have to wait too long for another opportunity to show itself, and this one was taken. Ever-present attacker Erhun Oztumer beat the offside trap and fed in Amadou Bakayoko, who scored in his fourth successive game against the Blades.

Just a few minutes after the Saddlers had opened the scoring, United went close to getting back on level terms as Caolan Lavery was denied by Kory Roberts, who threw his body on the line to block the shot after John Brayford's initial effort was blocked.

Bakayoko, beaming following his opening goal, found more space with around twenty-four minutes on the clock, he couldn't add to his tally as he fired the ball over the bar from an admittedly tight angle.

The Saddlers had to be on their toes soon after Baka's high effort as Lavery was once again in space, he couldn't make much happen as his cross-cum-shot was cleared, and again a few minutes later, as Nathan Thomas found space on the edge of the area, but the Blades midfielder's effort sailed wide of the goal..

There was little further action before time was called on the first half, the Saddlers taking a slender one goal lead into the break.


The second half got underway with both teams unchanged, and it wasn't long before the hosts were on the attack, with Lavery forcing a save from Gillespie, who did well to push the ball around the post. The Saddlers then created a chance of their own, but Joe Edwards volley from the edge of the box took a deflection off a Blades defender, sending the ball over the bar.

Fifty two minutes in, United were forced to make their first substitution of the game, with an injured James Hanson forced to make way for Ched Evans.

Liam Kinsella became the first player booked, in the fifty sixth minute, following an aerial challenge on Thomas. Two minutes later, the Blades made their second change of the evening, replacing Jake Bennett with Chris Basham  as they sought to get back on level terms.

The hosts won a corner in the sixty fourth minute, when a low Lundstram effort was deflected behind. The ball was cleared following the corner, but only as far as Thomas, who fired a speculative shot in from forty yards, which sailed well wide of the upright.

The hosts enjoyed much of the possession as the second half wore on, but were unable to create much, until the seventy fourth minute, when an unlucky Kory Roberts was hit by the ball after Gillespie saved from an Evans shot, deflecting the ball into the back of the net to draw the two sides level with sixteen minutes to play.

With little under fifteen minutes still to play, the Saddlers made their first change of the evening, as they sought to get themselves back ahead, with Amadou Backayoko making way for Simeon Jackson.

In the seventy ninth minute, Thomas put the hosts ahead, firing a right footed effort into the back of the net from the centre of the box. Three minutes later, the hosts converted again, as Daniel Lafferty's shot took a deflection, sending the ball looping into the roof of the net, with the Saddlers defences unable to get high enough to prevent the goal.

With seven minutes to play, the Saddlers made their second change of the evening, introducing Liam Kinsella in place of Maz Kouhyar as they looked to shore up their defences. Three minutes later, the hosts made their final substitution as John Fleck took the place of Caolan Lavery.

As we reached the ninety minute mark, and four additional minutes were shown, the Saddlers were awarded a penalty for a Basham handball. Oztumer stepped up, and confidently converted the spot-kick, firing the ball into roof of the net.

Unfortunately, Walsall were unable to create another chance as the minutes ticked away, and the game was eventually brought to an end with a trio of second half Blades goals was enough to see the hosts through to the next round. The Saddlers unlucky to suffer defeat, having lead at the break, and having played well for much of the game.

HT | 0-1
GOALS | K.Roberts OG (74'), Thomas (79'), Lafferty (82') - Bakayoko (13'), Oztumer PEN (90')
ATTENDANCE | 5,210 (236 Walsall)
REFEREE | Kevin Friend

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