Walsall, unbeaten in 13 games, edged a point closer to the League One play-off zone, despite being held at home by promotion rivals Sheffield United.

Craig Westcarr fired home his fifth goal in eight games from inside the box to put Dean Smith's Saddlers ahead two minutes before the break.

But Kevin McDonald set up substitute Chris Porter's 65th-minute equaliser.

It was the first goal conceded by Walsall keeper Sam Johnstone in four starts on loan from Manchester United.

  • Walsall, celebrating the 125th anniversary of their formation this weekend, have not lost now since 26 January.

Walsall, really needing a win to not only boost their play-off hopes but also mark their 125th anniversary celebrations, dominated the first half.

Despite still being without injured top scorer Will Grigg, the Saddlers poured forward repeatedly, dangerman Febian Brandy shooting wide after he broke clear to create a chance for himself on 42 minutes.

But Walsall took a deserved lead two minutes later when Ben Purkiss combined with James Baxendale, who crossed low for Westcarr to beat George Long with a low shot.

Brandy missed a great chance to seal it for the Saddlers when he shot wide in the 51st minute with only the keeper to beat.

But Blades boss Danny Wilson had made two key substitutions at the start of the second half and one of the newcomers, Porter, grabbed the equaliser from close range after McDonald's shot had come back off a post - his first goal since returning from loan at Shrewsbury.

VIEW FROM THE DRESSING ROOM

Walsall manager Dean Smith told BBC WM:

"On chances, we deserved to win. For an hour to today we we outstanding against one of the best sides in the league.

"On another day Fabien Brandy will score two or three. All the chances seemed to fall to him and he's normally clinical.

"They got back in the game with a goal and, in the last 20 minutes, they put us under pressure, but we still had chances.

"The dressing room is a bit disappointed, but 13 games without defeat is not to be scoffed at in this league."

Blades manager Danny Wilson told BBC Radio Sheffield:

"I think in the first half we were second best and we got away with it in terms of the scoreline.

"To lose a goal virtually on half-time was a real setback.

"Second half was quite the opposite. We've taken the game to them, got the goal and we look like we could go on and win the game.

"It wasn't to be, so I can't be too critical and it possibly was a fair result."

Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (5)

Walsall

  • 28 Johnstone
  • 04 Butler Booked
  • 14 Purkiss
  • 22 Downing
  • 26 Taylor (Benning - 57' )
  • 07 A Chambers
  • 24 Baxendale (Hemmings - 83' )
  • 27 Mantom
  • 10 Paterson
  • 12 Brandy Booked (Sawyers - 90' )
  • 29 Westcarr

Substitutes

  • 31 Roberts
  • 05 Holden
  • 20 Benning
  • 06 Featherstone
  • 11 Hemmings
  • 33 Sawyers
  • 17 Bowerman

Sheffield Utd

  • 25 Long
  • 04 Higginbotham
  • 05 Maguire
  • 06 Hill Booked
  • 15 Collins
  • 08 Doyle
  • 11 McDonald
  • 19 Robson (McFadzean - 60' )
  • 14 Kitson (Porter - 46' )
  • 16 Forte
  • 23 Murphy

Substitutes

  • 35 Coyne
  • 02 Westlake
  • 32 Kennedy
  • 26 McFadzean
  • 27 Whitehouse
  • 09 Porter
  • 24 Ironside
Ref: Whitestone
Att: 7,042

Match Stats

Shots

16 11

On target

7 4

Corners

8 2

Fouls

10 10

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +4:06 Full time

Full Time The referee ends the match.

90:00 +2:17

Jamie Murphy fouled by Sam Mantom, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by George Long.

90:00 +2:00 Booking

Booking Andy Butler receives a caution.

90:00 +0:32 Substitution

Substitution Romaine Sawyers joins the action as a substitute, replacing Febian Brandy.

89:59

Free kick awarded for a foul by Febian Brandy on George Long. Free kick taken by George Long.

89:35

Direct free kick taken by Sam Mantom.

89:35 Booking

Booking The referee cautions Matthew Hill for unsporting behaviour.

89:21

Unfair challenge on Ashley Hemmings by Matthew Hill results in a free kick.

87:32

The referee gives a free kick against Callum McFadzean for handball. Paul Downing restarts play with the free kick.

86:01

Jamie Murphy takes a shot. Save made by Sam Johnstone.

84:34

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Malvind Benning by Harry Maguire. Direct free kick taken by Sam Johnstone.

84:14

Corner taken by Jamie Murphy played to the near post, Sam Mantom makes a clearance.

83:59

Chris Porter takes a shot. Save by Sam Johnstone.

82:51 Substitution

Substitution Ashley Hemmings is brought on as a substitute for James Baxendale.

79:56 Booking

Booking Febian Brandy goes into the referee's book.

79:33

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Febian Brandy by Matthew Hill. Febian Brandy takes the direct free kick.

77:33

Craig Westcarr takes a shot. Save made by George Long.

76:49

Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Craig Westcarr, Chris Porter makes a clearance.

75:52

Unfair challenge on Andy Butler by Chris Porter results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Sam Johnstone.

75:26

Malvind Benning is flagged offside by the assistant referee. George Long takes the indirect free kick.

75:03

Jamie Paterson sends in a cross.

74:41

Kevin McDonald gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Craig Westcarr. Direct free kick taken by Adam Chambers.

73:45

Long range shot by Michael Doyle goes over the target.

71:04

Free kick awarded for a foul by James Baxendale on Callum McFadzean. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Callum McFadzean, clearance made by Sam Mantom.

69:19

Inswinging corner taken by Kevin McDonald from the left by-line, Adam Chambers manages to make a clearance.

68:29

Malvind Benning takes a shot. Blocked by Adam Chambers.

67:48

The ball is delivered by Chris Porter, Effort from deep inside the area by Jonathan Forte misses to the left of the target.

66:58

Foul by Chris Porter on Adam Chambers, free kick awarded. Adam Chambers takes the free kick.

65:34

Corner taken by Craig Westcarr from the left by-line.

65:30

Febian Brandy takes a shot. Save by George Long.

64:05

Kevin McDonald provided the assist for the goal.

64:05 Goal scored

Goal! - Chris Porter - Walsall 1 - 1 Sheff Utd Chris Porter gets on the score sheet with a goal from close in to the bottom left corner of the goal. Walsall 1-1 Sheff Utd.

63:46

Kevin McDonald produces a left-footed shot from just inside the penalty box and strikes the post.

61:51

Callum McFadzean fouled by Paul Downing, the ref awards a free kick. Strike comes in from Danny Higginbotham from the free kick, Febian Brandy gets a block in.

59:53 Substitution

Substitution Callum McFadzean joins the action as a substitute, replacing Barry Robson.

59:16

Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Malvind Benning, Harry Maguire makes a clearance.

59:01

Febian Brandy takes a shot. Save by George Long.

57:59

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Matthew Hill by Jamie Paterson. Michael Doyle restarts play with the free kick.

56:22 Substitution

Substitution Malvind Benning comes on in place of Andy Taylor.

55:04

Matthew Hill takes a shot from long distance which goes wide right of the goal.

53:40

Shot from just outside the area by Chris Porter misses to the left of the target.

51:40

Craig Westcarr is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Harry Maguire.

50:50

Effort from deep inside the area by Febian Brandy misses to the right of the goal.

49:58

The offside flag is raised against Craig Westcarr. Free kick taken by Neill Collins.

49:21

Andy Taylor has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the left of the goal.

48:21

Shot by Febian Brandy from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.

45:22

Shot by Kevin McDonald from a long way out goes over the crossbar.

45:01

The referee gets the second half underway.

45:01 Substitution

Substitution Dave Kitson leaves the field to be replaced by Chris Porter.

45:00 +1:11 Half time

Half Time The half-time whistle blows.

45:00 +0:12

Danny Higginbotham gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Febian Brandy. Sam Johnstone takes the direct free kick.

43:34

The assist for the goal came from James Baxendale.

43:34 Goal scored

Goal! - Craig Westcarr - Walsall 1 - 0 Sheff Utd Craig Westcarr grabs a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Walsall 1-0 Sheff Utd.

41:08

Shot from inside the six-yard box by Febian Brandy goes wide right of the goal.

40:25

Foul by Neill Collins on James Baxendale, free kick awarded. Ben Purkiss takes the free kick.

37:17

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Dave Kitson by Paul Downing. Free kick taken by Barry Robson.

36:47

James Baxendale produces a right-footed shot from long distance which goes wide right of the goal.

36:06

Sam Mantom has an effort from just inside the box that misses to the left of the target.

35:54

Corner taken by Craig Westcarr from the left by-line to the near post, clearance by Kevin McDonald.

35:28

Inswinging corner taken by Andy Taylor, Andy Butler takes a shot. Save by George Long.

35:03

Jamie Paterson takes a shot. Blocked by Matthew Hill.

32:05

The ball is delivered by Danny Higginbotham, save made by Sam Johnstone.

28:57

Foul by Adam Chambers on Jonathan Forte, free kick awarded. Centre by Barry Robson, Header from deep inside the penalty area by Danny Higginbotham goes harmlessly over the crossbar.

28:19

Effort on goal by Adam Chambers from 35 yards went harmlessly over the bar.

27:10

Foul by Febian Brandy on Kevin McDonald, free kick awarded. Barry Robson delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left wing, save made by Sam Johnstone.

26:01

Corner taken by Craig Westcarr played to the near post, clearance by Matthew Hill.

24:20

Adam Chambers challenges Barry Robson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Barry Robson takes the direct free kick.

22:12

The ball is sent over by Ben Purkiss, clearance made by Matthew Hill.

20:13

The referee blows for offside. George Long restarts play with the free kick.

18:58

Unfair challenge on Jamie Paterson by Matthew Hill results in a free kick. Sam Johnstone takes the free kick.

17:49

Dave Kitson fouled by Ben Purkiss, the ref awards a free kick. George Long restarts play with the free kick.

11:48

Andy Taylor decides to take a short corner.

10:06

Shot from just outside the box by Jamie Paterson goes over the bar.

9:27

Corner taken by Andy Taylor from the right by-line, save by George Long.

5:58

Foul by Dave Kitson on Adam Chambers, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Paul Downing.

3:55

James Baxendale has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the right of the target.

0:00

The referee starts the match.

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