Sheffield United crashed out of the EFL Checkatrade Trophy after suffering a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Walsall.
The home side started the brightest out of the two teams, but failed to produce any real chances in the opening stages of the contest.
Walsall were extremely quiet in the opening quarter of an hour, but somehow took the lead through Scott Laird in the 16th minute.
A poor clearance by Reece Brown fell to Walsall’s key man Amadou Bakayoko, who put the ball on a plate for Laird. The Saddlers defender simply couldn’t miss as he fired the ball into the roof of the net from five yards out.
Sheffield United responded brilliantly however, as they nearly levelled just a minute later. Left-back Chris Hussey whipped in an inviting cross for Blades forward Matt Done, but he couldn’t quite reach the ball which ran out for a goal kick.
Done squandered another fantastic cross from Hussey on the half hour mark. The ball ran straight through to David Brooks who was arriving at the back post, but he fired the ball high and wide.
A poor evening for Done got even worse on the 37th minute mark when he remarkably appeared to just leave a Reece Brown delivery.
After the interval, the first chance of the second half came courtesy of Walsall’s Josh Ginnelly. A neat bit of foot-work took the 19-year-old past Blades full-back James Wilson before he unleashed a curling effort towards the bottom corner, but Blades keeper Simon Moore got down superbly to deny the Saddlers winger.
Moore was called into action again on the hour mark. He was on hand to brilliantly save a Bakayoko header from four yards out.
The forward eventually got on the score-sheet five minutes later however, as he finished off a neat Walsall counter attack with a cool finish into the bottom corner.
The home side got one back 10 minutes later via a thumping effort from Paul Coutts. This cast the contest wide open and the Blades very nearly levelled through Mark Duffy, his curling effort flashing just wide of the far post.
The Blades just couldn’t find that elusive equaliser, though, and the tie finished 2-1.
Whilst Blades boss Chris Wilder was disappointed with his sides performance, he reserved most of his ire for a trophy which he claimed was ‘not working.’
“It’s took a dive,” the United manager said, “All up and down the country in this competition they’ve voted with their feet.”
The defeat now means that Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United and Grimsby Town are out of the EFL Checkatrade trophy with one more game to play.
Leicester U23’s and Walsall have advanced into the next round.