Walsall 1-0 Sheffield United
12/11/2014 - 19:45
The Saddlers moved to within two rounds of a maiden appearance at Wembley, seeing off Sheffield United in front of the Sky cameras thanks to a second half header from Romaine Sawyers.
A typically forgettable first half came and went, with both sides showing plenty of effort but very little quality. Tom Bradshaw was proving to be a handful for the Blades defence, but other than that very little happened in an opening 45 minutes that certainly wouldn`t have had TV viewers sitting on the edge of their seats.
Worryingly for the Saddlers, the break saw the withdrawal of Bradshaw with a tight hamstring, which must surely make him a doubt for the Peterborough game at the weekend. However, for the first time this season we actually looked more of a threat without him as Mathieu Manset, who came on in his place, probably had the best game I`ve seen him play.
The breakthrough came 10 minutes into the second half when an Anthony Forde corner was met by Sawyers at the near post and, via at least two deflections, nestled into the back of the net.
It was what the game needed and from this point it started to open up into an entertaining game. Manset came close to doubling the Saddlers lead when he cut in from the left touch line, performed a couple of step overs even Chris Marsh would have been proud of, before firing a ferocious drive that the Blades keeper did well to beat away.
Moments later came the games pivotal moment when an unlucky bounce off Adam Chambers put Chris Porter through only for him to be brought down by Richard O`Donnell for what looked a nailed on spot kick, but the referee inexplicably waved the appeals away.
The visitors continued to huff and puff but O`Donnell remained predominantly untroubled, a long range effort from Reid proving to be the only real shot on target. The Saddlers also had chances to extend the lead with substitute Grimes forcing a decent save from, and Manset continuing to cause problems for the Blades defence. But a single goal proved to be enough and the Saddlers progress to the area semi finals.