THE SADDLERS' first-ever visit to St. Mary's Stadium ended in a heavy 5-1 defeat at the hands of Southampton.
A foul by Radhi Jaidi on Troy Deeney gave Walsall a free-kick in a good position in the second minute and Matt Richards stepped up to find the net with a sweet left-footed strike.
It was a fine start by Chris Hutchings' men, but it only acted to spur the home side into life as Rickie Lambert went close on a couple of occasions with headers.
The equaliser finally arrived on seven minutes as Lambert linked up with Jason Puncheon who fired in off the post beyond Rene Gilmartin, who was back in goal in place of Clayton Ince.
With Southampton in their stride, Lambert went close before they got their noses in front just past the half-hour mark when Puncheon's cross found its way to Lee Barnard via Lambert and he made no mistake.
Clayton McDonald had a header cleared from in front of goal, but it wasn't long before The Saints' lead was doubled as Jon Otsemobor's cross from the right was fired home by Barnard.
There was a booking for Darryl Westlake before Lambert went close in the closing stages of a first half that saw The Saints on top for long periods.
The first action of the second period saw Dean Hammond get in a shot that beat Gilmartin only for Richards - once a transfer target for Southampton - to clear off the line.
Just past the hour, it was 4-1 when Otsemobor found Lambert in space and his strike found its way beyond Gilmartin.
On 67 minutes, a double change saw Westlake and Darren Byfield replaced by Rhys Weston and Steve Jones respectively.
Alex Nicholls was off target with an effort whilst at the other end, Adam Lallana also went close from a good position.
After Jones was off target on 75 minutes, the home side had to be alert to clear Weston's inviting cross from the right. The double substitution certainly breathed life into Tne Saddlers.
The closing stages saw Southampton add a fifth goal when Ndiaye Papa Waigo did well on the right and his cross found Lallana in space and he guided the ball home beyond Gilmartin's despairing dive to complete a heavy defeat for Walsall.
There was still time for a booking for Deeney for a foul on Dan Harding.
PHOTOS: Kevin Grice