THE SADDLERS slipped to a 2-0 defeat at high-flying Charlton Athletic.
An effort from distance by Frazer Richardson stung the hands of Clayton Ince within the opening two minutes before Richardson's cross in the next attack was headed just over by Nicky Bailey as the home side started on top.
A foul on Sam Parkin gave Walsall a free-kick in a promising position on the quarter-hour mark but Peter Till fired straight into the defensive wall.
Some neat play from The Saddlers ended with Steve Jones' inviting cross being cleared at the far post as Chris Hutchings' men started to get into their stride and grab a hold of the game.
However, it was Charlton who took the lead on 30 minutes as Miguel Llera's initial header was blocked on the line by his own player but the Spaniard was able to bundle the ball over the line from close range.
Lloyd Sam's trickery caused problems as half-time approached and he was able to enter the penalty area before being outnumbered.
The last action of the half saw Jonjo Shelvey's curling effort from distance destined for the top corner until Ince got across his goal to gather.
With Richard Taundry on for Jones during the interval, Bailey cut inside before firing over for The Addicks, whilst at the other end, Matt Richards' ball in from the left was headed home by Mark Hughes but his celebrations were short-lived as the assistant referee had his flag raised for offside.
Moments later a Walsall counter-attack ended with Parkin curling wide from a good position.
Just past the hour, Troy Deeney made good progress to beat Llera only for his shot from the angle saved by Rob Elliot in the home goal.
Richards and Deeney then combined to set up Till who fired well over and it was to be his last involvement in the action as he was replaced by Alex Nicholls..
As The Saddlers were once more attempting to get up a head of steam, Shelvey fired a warning shot before a sloppy ball allowed Charlton to break as substitute, Scott Wagstaff was left in acres of space on the right and he made no mistake as he slotted past an exposed Ince for his first goal for the club.
After Jamie Vincent's cross was punched clear by Elliot, a Walsall corner saw the ball come back out to Richards whose cross was met with a deft header from Parkin that hit the inside of the post and bounced away.
It was our last chance to get back into the game, which petered out in the closing stages.
PHOTOS: Kevin Grice