Saddlers back in the winning groove
THE SADDLERS returned to home soil for the visit of an Oldham Athletic side who were finding life tough in the League but had removed Liverpool from the FA Cup in their last game.
It was the visitors who had the first chance when debutant, Lee Barnard did well to make room for a strike on the edge of the area that he lifted well over the crossbar.
The Latics made a lively start to proceedings with Chris Iwelumo proving a handful with his aerial presence and Lee Croft seeing planty of the ball out wide on the right.
The visitors opened the scoring when a ball in from the right found its way over to Barnard who directed his header beyond Ian McLoughlin to make it 1-0.
The goal sprung Saddlers to life as moments later we had our first chance but the effort lacked power.
The next attack saw Will Grigg break on the right but his low ball across the face of goal was ahead of Febian Brandy.
A free-kick in a promising position for The Saddlers saw Jamie Paterson curl an effort just wide.
With five minutes to the break The Saddlers were back on level terms when Andy Taylor fed James Baxendale who twisted and turned to break into the area and slot home to make it 1-1.
The goal saw Walsall come to life and moments later Brandy's effort struck the post before falling into the grateful arms of the 'keeper.
The Saddlers ended the half on top and a free-kick out wide on the right in stoppage time caused concern but the danger was cleared.
HALF-TIME: Walsall 1 Oldham Athletic 1
An excellent through-ball from Jamie Paterson set Grigg through but Dean Bouzanis saved with his legs in the 47th minute.
A foul on Grigg by Connor Brown gave Andy Taylor a free-kick which he pumped into the area and gave the 'keeper problems, but Oldham were able to scramble clear.
At the other end, a corner found its way to Jonthan Grounds in a decent position but he fired over.
The Saddlers took the lead on 74 minutes when Jamie Paterson was given space to run into and he fired home with a low strike for 2-1.
In the wake of the goal, Craig Westcarr replaced Baxendale before a tricky run by Paterson ended with the 'keeper blocking his effort.
Dean Smith made a second change on 86 minutes as James Chambers came on for Brandy.
Jose Baxter given time to line up a strike that flashed just wide as the clock ticked down.
As the visitors searched for a way back into the game late on, a counter-attack by The Saddlers saw Westcarr make his presence felt to find Paterson but the visitors were able to clear. However, it wasn't long before Paterson had another chance as he lifted the ball over his marker before bursting through and slotting home to make it 3-1.
It confirmed a return to winning ways for Dean Smith and new assistant manager, David Kelly.
FULL-TIME: Walsall 3 Oldham Athletic 1