Sutton suffered a frustrating second consecutive home defeat, having the better of the first half without a goal to show for it, and beaten by a free kick that was soft in both award and execution midway through the second half.
Walsall will have gone away delighted with what they would have seen as a perfect away performance, surviving Sutton's best spell of the game in the first half and making it increasingly difficult for U's to gain any momentum after the interval, and then striking when Rob Milsom was penalised for a tackle on Joss Labadie and substitute Tyrese Shade curled the free kick between Dean Bouzanis and his near post. As their supporters have come to expect U's pressed for an equaliser, and had it come there would have been little doubt that over the ninety minutes it would have been deserved, but more dogged defending from the visitors ensured that they would walk away with the points.
With Jon Barden added to the injury list after Tuesday's game at Colchester, Rob Milsom moved in to midfield with Ben Wyatt in at left back, while Will Randall started in place of Enzio Boldewijn, and although Walsall created two early chances as Brendan Kiernan's low volley was well saved by Bouzanis, and leading scorer George Miller sliced a shot high and wide after getting in behind the Sutton defensive line, the chances for the remainder of the half were at the other end. Ali Smith turned the ball just wide from a David Ajiboye cross, and Ben Goodliffe meeting a Milsom corner with a goalbound header that was blocked in the six yard box. The closest to a goal, though, came as a counter attack saw Randall take the ball from deep inside his own half before finding Isaac Olaofe, whose low shot clipped the outside of the post.
Randall, impressive in the first half, sent a curling shot just wide after Ajiboye had set him up with a darting crossfield run, and when Joe Kizzi headed a Milsom free kick back across goal both Goodliffe and Omar Bugiel were agonisingly close to getting a touch before Walsall cleared, but in the second half U's found it far harder to get in behind a resolute defence which gave nothing away, and what in the first half had been an entertaining game became scrappy and disjointed. That suited the visitors far more, and midway through the half came the decisive moment as Milsom challenged Labadie from behind and when Labadie went over referee Carl Boyeson ruled that Milsom had pushed him. Labadie's reaction suggested he had got exactly what he wanted, and Shade, who had only been on the pitch seven minutes, sent his free kick past the defensive wall and inside the near post as Bouzanis scrambled across, and while it was a well taken free kick, U's will be disappointed that it got as far as the back of the net.
Predictably much of the rest of the match was spent in the Walsall half, and were unlucky not to equalise when Ajiboye produced another typically dashing run, beating three defenders before sending in a shot that clipped the top of the bar on the way over, although Monthe again deserves credit for forcing Ajiboye slightly wide. Coby Rowe crashed a long range volley just wide, substitute Enzio Boldewijn saw a shot from outside the penalty area held by Carl Rushworth, and from one of two free kicks in good positions in stoppage time, Tobi Sho-Silva was unable to react quickly enough to get a shot on target when Boldewijn turned the ball back across goal as the equaliser proced elusive.
Sutton: D Bouzanis, J Kizzi, B Wyatt, C Rowe, B Goodliffe, A Smith, D Ajiboye, I Olaofe(sub D Wilson 76), O Bugiel(sub T Sho-Silva 86), R Milsom, W Randall(sub E Boldewijn 72). Subs n/u B House, K Davis, R Korboa.
Walsall: C Rushworth, H White, S Ward, J Labadie, R Menayese, M Monthe, B Kiernan(sub A Taylor 86), J Earing, K Phillips(sub T Shade 66), E Osadebe(sub S Perry 84), G Miller. Subs n/u J Rose, A Bates, T Leak, O Khan. Booked: Labadie, Perry.
Referee: Carl Boyeson
Attendance: 3,319(607 away)