Angry boss Dean Smith today claimed Walsall suffered rough justice when Sheffield United goalkeeper George Long escaped punishment for a “leg breaking” challenge last night.
The 10-man Saddlers went down 1-0 at Bramall Lane after losing defender Dean Holden to a red card after just 14 minutes with Nick Blackman netting the penalty.
Smith had no complaints over Holden’s dismissal but insisted Long should also have seen red midway through the first half after clashing with Walsall striker Will Grigg as the pair contested a loose ball.
“The referee got our red card right but I felt it should have been 10 against 10 because their keeper went through Will Grigg,” said Smith, whose side are now winless in six games.
“It looked like a red card to me but I don’t really expect it at Bramall Lane.
“We had the same last year when Matt Lowton went through Mat Sadler and we got nothing, so I didn’t really expect anything this year.
“Will got to the ball first and the goalkeeper went over the top and caught him.
“He went with a straight leg and it was one of those leg-breaking challenges. Fortunately Will came out of it OK, but unfortunately their goalkeeper stayed on and made a great save just after it.
“It should have been a penalty and a red card but sometimes you just don’t expect to get them.”
Smith refused to point the finger at Jamie Paterson despite the young forward’s miscued pass forcing Holden to chop down Dave Kitson, leading to his dismissal and the penalty that Blackman converted.
And the Saddlers boss paid tribute to his side’s performance with 10 men.
“People make mistakes all the time,” he said. “I remember the England captain, Steven Gerrard, doing it for Liverpool against Manchester United.
“The players are learning all the time and Jamie will learn from that mistake and be better for it.
“We don’t have a blame culture at the club. We try to educate players and develop them into being better footballers.
“We showed a lot of resolve after going down to 10 men and, in spells, played some really good football.”