Full time: Walsall 1 Sheffield United 0

Louis Reed beats Walsall's Michael Cain to a header
Louis Reed beats Walsall's Michael Cain to a header
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The Blades crashed out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy with a narrow defeat to Walsall at the Banks Stadium.

A second half striker from Romaine Sawyers proved enough for hosts Walsall to advance to the Northern Area semi-finals at the expense of United in what was a largely dour contest.

Johnstone Paint Trophy : Walsall v Sheffield United  12.11.14'pic : Martyn Harrison'Adam Chambers  - Walsall  &  Stephen McGinn - Sheff utd   ''� copyright : Blades Sports Photography

Johnstone Paint Trophy : Walsall v Sheffield United 12.11.14'pic : Martyn Harrison'Adam Chambers - Walsall & Stephen McGinn - Sheff utd ''� copyright : Blades Sports Photography

Chances were few and far between during the first half.

It took a pair of fine covering tackles from Harrison McGahey and Chris Basham to prevent the hosts – who started the brighter – from breaking through on goal.

United waited until the 33rd minute to register their first shot of the match with Louis Reed hitting the target from distance but failing to trouble former Owls keeper Richard O’Donnell.

Craig Alcock then flashed a shot across the face of goal after cutting inside from the right but again failed to cause any headaches for O’Donnell.

Johnstone Paint Trophy : Walsall v Sheffield United  12.11.14'pic : Martyn Harrison'Adam Chambers  - Walsall  &  Diego De Girolamo - Sheff utd   ''� copyright : Blades Sports Photography

Johnstone Paint Trophy : Walsall v Sheffield United 12.11.14'pic : Martyn Harrison'Adam Chambers - Walsall & Diego De Girolamo - Sheff utd ''� copyright : Blades Sports Photography

Iain Turner was alert to deny Walsall the opener three minutes before the break. A through ball from Michael Cain found Jordan Cook but his shot was blocked by the legs of the on-rushing Turner.

Sawyers nodded hosts Walsall in front after 55 minutes.

The attacking midfielder ghosted in at the near post to meet a corner and break the deadlock of a particularly dour game at the Banks Stadium.

The Blades had a penalty appeal turned down as they looked to draw level.

Chris Porter surged into the box and went down under the challenge of O’Donnell but referee David Coote waved away appeals for a penalty.

Reed tested O’Donnell with a long range strike, forcing a corner as United upped their search for an equaliser.

But it should have been two for Walsall on 72 minutes. Sawyers played in substitute Mathieu Manset who lifted the ball over Iain Turner but also over the bar.

Turner prevented the hosts from doubling their advantage four minutes from time. Ashley Grimes was played into space on the edge of the box and drilled a shot which Turner tipped wide.

Walsall: O’Donnell, Purkiss, Downing, J Chambers, Taylor, Cook (Grimes 71), Cain (Mantom 71), A Chambers, Forde, Sawyers, Bradshaw (Manset 46).

Subs not used: O’Connor, MacGillivray.

United: Turner, Alcock, Basham, McGahey, Harris, Flynn, McGinn (Scougall 79), Doyle, Reed, Porter (Baxter 79), De Girolamo (Campbell-Ryce 83).

Subs not used: Howard, Kennedy.

Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire)

Att: 2,127 (342)