A screamer from Michael Brown gave 10-man Sheffield United a deserved 1-0 win at Walsall to stretch their unbeaten run in all competitions to 10 matches.
Walsall had won their last four at home but failed to take advantage when on-loan Fulham midfielder Jon Harley saw red after the break with the match still goalless.
The visitors could have taken the lead much earlier as an assured performance from stand-in Saddlers goalkeeper Gavin Ward maintained the deadlock.
Ward, starting in place of the suspended James Walker, did not make the best of starts with a fumble from Peter Ndlovu's corner - but soon regained his confidence to frustrate United.
Shaun Murphy's header, Carl Asaba's close-range effort and Ndlovu's shot were all clutched by the keeper playing only his third game this season.
And with a speculative Darren Wrack effort early on the most Walsall could muster, the hosts were in desperate need of inspiration up front.
Things showed no signs of changing as the second half started in similar fashion with Stuart McCall and Nick Montgomery sending shots over the top.
When Walsall striker Junior followed Jorge Leitao and Martin O'Connor into the book for dissent it was obvious the home fans' frustration was spreading to the players.
The response from boss Colin Lee was to bring on striker David Zdrilic and midfielder Gareth Ainsworth for Junior and Steve Corica with the half just 18 minutes old.
And the pattern of home bookings and away shots was broken almost immediately - though not in the way Lee had envisaged.
Jon Harley's fouls on Danny Sonner and Wrack saw him dismissed for two yellows after 68 minutes.
This time it was United manager Neil Warnock who had to act and his decision was to take off Ndlovu for defender Robert Kozluk in an attempt to guarantee a point.
But in the 72nd minute Brown had more ambitious intentions as he cut in from the left to smash a shot into the far top corner.
Almost inevitably the 10 men of United sat back on their lead as Walsall, roared on by 10, 459 fans in their new-look stadium, came forward.
Darren Bazeley drilled a 25-yard shot wide, sub Ainsworth put a close range header past the post and Danny Hay also headed wide.
But the United defence held firm for a fourth successive league clean sheet and three valuable points.