But the Blades were fortunate as their opponents missed a host of presentable chances during a niggly encounter.
Winger Paul Gallagher swept home the winner from 10 yards with just two minutes left of a game largely dominated by the League One strugglers.
Striker David Kitson had earlier given Wilson’s team the lead when he powered a 27th-minute header past former Rotherham goalkeeper Scott Flinders following right-back Tony McMahon’s dipping cross.
But veteran forward Steve Howard equalised in the 77th minute in emphatic fashion.
The Blades had bossed the first 15 minutes without creating a clear chance and were nearly caught out two minutes later when home midfielder Antony Sweeney screwed badly wide. They went closer on 25 minutes when Blades goalkeeper Mark Howard palmed James Poole’s fierce drive into the air.
The pressure continued even after Kitson’s opener and former Rotherham winger Andy Monkhouse sliced poorly wide on 32 minutes before Sweeney’s header hit the bar.
They eventually grabbed the equaliser they deserved as veteran striker Howard scored a 77th-minute header.
Hartlepool United: Flinders, Austin, Baldwin, Hartley, Holden, Franks, Sweeney, Murray, Monkhouse, Poole (James 72), Howard. Unused substitutes: McHugh, Humphreys, Collins, Horwood, Richards, Lynch.
Sheffield United: Howard, McMahon, Maguire, Collins, Hill, Gallagher, Doyle, McDonald, Flynn, Blackman (Cofie 61),Kitson (Cresswell 81). Unused substitutes: Long, Westlake, Porter, McAllister, Williams.
Referee: M Heywood (Cheshire).