Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder leapt to the defence of his players following last night’s defeat by Walsall.
But, after watching Amadou Bakayoko’s strike condemn them to a first defeat in 16 League One games, Wilder criticised Darren England’s officiating of a contest which also saw Billy Sharp miss a late penalty before having a goal controversially disallowed.
Wilder, who claimed United should have been awarded three more spot-kicks, admitted United had lacked “a bit of magic” but said: “Those lads have given everything. Their desire to win the game, their attitude carried on right until the very end.
“The situation this club is in now compared to what it’s been like in the past is chalk and cheese. So we stick our chins out, puff out our chests and get ready to go again. Everybody knows what I’m about. What we’re about as a staff.
“But there’s no way I’m going to go in there and beat them up after that.”
Sharp, who saw his spot-kick saved by Neil Etheridge, thought he had rescued a point after turning home in added time. Although there was confusion about why England ruled-out the United captain’s effort - Wilder claiming he had been told it was for a push by Leon Clarke - Sharp later insisted it was for an alleged handball.
Asked about the South Yorkshire referee’s performance, Wilder, whose side remain third in the table, replied: “I’m not going to say what I think other than that I’m going to give him possibly the lowest mark I’ve given a ref in a long time.
“I thought we should have had four penalties out there, nevermind one. We’re talking about saves (by defenders), proper saves.
“But I’m proud of the way we’re going about our football,” Wilder added. “There are things we can get better at and we’ll address those but, if we show that dominance over the rest of the season, we’ll be okay.”