THE SADDLERS stepped out in the south coast sunshine for a game against an AFC Bournemouth side showing six changes from their previous game.
Purposeful start by the home side as Walsall were forced into some early defending.
The first sight of goal for The Saddlers came in the 11th minute when an intelligent ball from Nicky Featherstone found George Bowerman who made room for a strike but the angle was tight and the ball flashed wide of the target.
There were signs that Dean Smith's side were starting to get into their stride on the quarter-hour with some decent passages of play.
A corner from Jamie Paterson found its way over to Andy Butler at the far post but he was off target.
Chances few and far between at either end. A foul by Dean Holden in the 24th minute gave the home side a free-kick in a promising position which Charlie Daniels curled in dangerously but no-one able to capitalise on the opportunity.
Will Grigg did well to get the ball in from the by-line and find strike partner, George Bowerman who dipped a header over.
After The Saddlers lost the ball in the midfield, The Cherries were able to launch an attack which ended with Eunan O'Kane firing wide. At the other end, Walsall went close when a low ball into the danger zone crept wide of the mark.
The Saddlers took the initiative five minutes from the break when Ben Purkiss did well to set up James Baxendale who crossed invitingly from the right for Andy Butler to head home and make it 1-0.
HALF-TIME: AFC Bournemouth 0 Walsall 1
A bright start to the second period for the home side saw Eunan O'Kane get in a low strike that Karl Darlow saved and then managed to knock the rebound out for a corner. Moments later, Grigg chased a long ball forward only to be outnumbered as Stephane Zubar cleared the danger.
With 51 minutes on the clock, Purkiss crossed well as Miles Addison got in a vital clearance. The resulting corner was taken short and found its way to Andy Taylor who managed to teed up a shooting chance for himself that landed wide.
Good work from the alert Grigg saw him block a clearance from David James but he failed to find a team-mate and the chance was lost.
Free-kick whipped into near post with pace by The Saddlers but James did well to hold on to the ball as Holden and Bowerman lurked for any rebound.
Half-clearance by The Cherries fell to Flo Cuvelier whose first-time volley went close. The Saddlers on top as we passed the hour-mark and looking the most likely side at this stage.
The first change of the afternoon for Walsall came on 75 minutes when Richard Taundry replaced James Baxendale.
AFC Bournemouth got back on level terms with seven minutes to go when the ball came in from the right and found its way to Charlie Daniels on the far side and he lashed the ball home to make it 1-1.
There was a late change for Walsall as Febian Brandy came on for Grigg and he almost turned in a corner at the near post with his first touch. It forced another corner and this time, the ball wasn't cleared properly and Bowerman rifled the ball home with just seconds to go.
As we entered stoppage time, The Cherries upped the pressure and went close as Darlow denied them with a smart save.
FULL-TIME: AFC Bournemouth 1 Walsall 2
WALSALL: Darlow, Butler, Holden, Featherstone, Cuvelier, Grigg (Brandy), Paterson, Purkiss, Bowerman, Baxendale (Taundry), A.Taylor.