Ashley Maddocks came off the bench to score the only goal for Walsall’s Development Squad in a scrappy 1-0 win at home to Burton.
The visitors came flying out of the traps and could have taken the lead on four minutes, when Joe Sbarra played in Jake Davies but he fired disappointingly wide.
Burton went even closer nine minutes later, as Marcus Dinanga chased a long ball over the home defence and rattled the inside of Chandler Hallwood’s near post with a low left-footed drive.
With Walsall looking susceptible defensively, the Brewers fashioned another big chance on 16 minutes.
A two-on-one break saw Sbarra burst into the penalty area but his powerful strike was parried by Hallwood.
Burton continued to enjoy the better of proceedings, with Dinanga holding off Kory Roberts before drilling wide on the turn.
The Saddlers’ first meaningful opportunity came on 33 minutes, Tobias Hayles-Docherty with a firm 25-yarder which forced visiting keeper Harry Campbell into a fine one-handed stop.
Cameron Peters looked to pounce on the follow-up, but the alert Charlie Gatter produced an important clearance.
Clear-cut chances proved few and far between at the start of the second period, although Burton were doing most of the pressing.
Walsall keeper Hallwood was called into action on 58 minutes as he made a spectacular reflex stop to tip over Dillon Garnett’s rasping volley.
The young custodian came to the Saddlers’ rescue again 15 minutes later, producing an acrobatic one-handed save to keep out Jack Hallahan’s swerving right-footed strike.
The match appeared to be meandering towards a goalless draw, but with 14 minutes remaining, Walsall made the breakthrough.
Trialist Patrick McClean, the brother of West Brom winger James, delivered an inviting cross from the left which dropped for substitute Maddocks to poke the ball over the line from close range.
Burton mustered little in response, with Garnett firing wide following a well-worked move, and Cameron Steele heading onto the roof of the net from a corner.
Team: Hallwood, Tonks, McClean, Cela, Roberts, Vann, Oliver (Shorrock 45’), Butterfield, Peters (Maddocks 70’), Sangha, Hayles-Docherty (Freemantle 83’).
Subs not used: Ganley, Kendrick.