Walsall secured top spot in Northern Group H after Amadou Bakayoko’s fifth goal in three Checkatrade Trophy matches saw off Leicester Under-21s.
The 20-year-old striker, who signed a new one-year contract with the club yesterday, netted the decisive goal on 63 minutes when he tapped home Jason McCarthy’s low cross.
The result means Walsall have taken nine points from a possible nine in the group and are guaranteed a home draw in the next round.
Leicester, boasting a number of experienced first-team players in their starting line-up, displayed their attacking intent from the outset and should have taken the lead on five minutes.
Matty James’ lovely-weighted pass put Leonardo Ulloa clean through on goal but the advancing Craig MacGillivray spread himself well to smother the striker’s attempt.
Former Poland international Marcin Wasilewski, the oldest player on the pitch at 36, was next to try his luck with an ambitious 30-yard effort which whistled wide.
Walsall, only needing a point to guarantee top spot, grew into the contest with Liam Kinsella’s deflected strike forcing home keeper Ben Hamer into a routine save.
The Saddlers very nearly took the lead on 18 minutes, when former Fox Franck Moussa rattled the post from a tight angle after being played in by Isaiah Osbourne.
Jon Whitney’s visitors had another decent opportunity just before the half-hour mark as Matt Preston headed Josh Ginnelly’s corner over from eight yards.
Goalmouth incident proved in short supply during the remainder of the first-half, although the Foxes’ Alex Pascanu did fire off target on the cusp of half-time after being set-up by Ulloa.
Half-time: Leicester U21s 0-0 Walsall
After a quiet start to the second-half, Walsall went ahead on 58 minutes when Ginnelly released McCarthy on the overlap and the full-back crossed low for Bakayoko to convert from close range.
The Saddlers had the chance to double their lead ten minutes later, as Ginnelly latched onto Kevin Toner’s long pass before seeing a left-footed shot deflected just wide by Josh Debayo.
Walsall were bossing proceedings and really should have added to their lead through the impressive Ginnelly.
First, the Burnley loanee curled a wicked cross-shot over Hamer but inches wide of the far top corner.
And the 19-year-old went closer still seconds later, as he clattered the underside of the crossbar with a powerful drive after using his pace to get in behind the Foxes defence.
Ginnelly was causing the Leicester rearguard all kinds of problems and he had another opportunity to get on the scoresheet in the closing stages.
George Dobson slid the youngster through one-on-one but, under pressure from two recovering defenders, he could only find the side-netting.
In stoppage time, Preston made an expertly-timed last-ditch sliding tackle as the hosts pushed for a leveller, but Walsall deservedly held on to make it three wins from three in Northern Group H.
Full-time: Leicester U21s 0-1 Walsall
Team: MacGillivray, McCarthy, Toner, Preston, Cockerill-Mollett, Osbourne, Dobson, Kinsella, Ginnelly (Shorrock 89’), Moussa, Bakayoko (Sangha 78’).
Subs not used: Etheridge, Laird, Jackson, Oztumer, Roberts.
Attendance: 839 (231 Walsall supporters).