DANNY Wilson’s wobble is rapidly turning into a crisis after Sheffield United’s automatic promotion hopes took another hit – this time at the hands of relegation-battlers Walsall.
Two defeats in their previous three games allied to injury and suspension problems had been raising concerns at Bramall Lane.
Those concerns are growing now after United boss Wilson saw Walsall sentence his side to another damaging defeat.
United’s leaky defence should not have really been a surprise.
They had gone into the game having lost their first-choice back four of Matt Lowton, Harry Maguire, Lecsinel Jean Francois and Neill Collins.
United had eased their manpower problems by bringing in defenders Matt Hill and John Egan on loan from Blackpool and Sunderland respectively and Wilson handed them immediate debuts. The duo were thrown together at the centre of defence and formed a useful link-up before wilting in the second half.
Walsall debutant Sam Mantom set the alarm bells ringing when he gave the hosts a 55th-minute lead. While Lee Williamson dragged United back on to level terms 10 minutes later, Jon Macken took advantage of slack defending to regain the lead for Walsall with a near-post shot in the 73rd minute.
Ched Evans looked to have salvaged a point with his 23rd goal of the season just three minutes later. But United’s back line was again found wanting when Alex Nicholls rose at the far post to head home the winner.
Walsall: Grof, Taundry (sub 40 Beevers), Butler, Lancashire, Sadler, Paterson (sub 48 Nicholls), Cuvelier, Mantom, Hurst, Macken, Bowerman (sub 76 Grigg). Unused substitutes: Peterlin, Walker.
Sheffield United: Simonsen, Ertl, Egan, Hill, Taylor (sub 89 Beattie), Quinn, Williamson, Doyle, Flynn (sub 84 Hoskins), Evans, Cresswell (sub 79 Porter). Unused substitutes: Montgomery, Howard.
Referee: G Scott (Oxon)