Walsall slipped to their first away defeat since mid-September after substitute Tristan Abrahams scored two minutes from time as Carlisle United claimed all three points.
There was very little between the two teams in a game that lacked quality in the final third and one goal was enough to win it.
Matt Taylor was forced to make one change from the team that beat Port Vale on Tuesday night as Otis Khan came in for the injured Brendan Kiernan.
The Saddlers made a bright start and came close to scoring twice in the opening three minutes when Khan bent a shot just wide of the post and Conor Wilkinson’s arrowed effort was well saved by Mark Howard.
Carlisle settled down after Walsall’s lightning start and it became a more even affair in terms of possession with both sides lacking cutting edge in the final third.
The hosts’ first opportunity came from 40-yards out when Stephen Ward slipped on the ball and it fell to Joe Riley who spotted Carl Rushworth off his line and he tried his luck with a shot that just dropped over the crossbar.
They almost took the lead on 34 minutes when Jordan Gibson skipped towards goal and squeezed in a low shot that clipped the outside of the post, much to the relief of Rushworth.
The Saddlers looked to regain the initiative but found Carlisle to be stubborn opposition and couldn’t quite find their rhythm.
The last chance of the half fell to Joss Labadie who headed wide from a free-kick but the two sides went into the break on level terms.
The second half took a while to come to life. The Saddlers had the first attempt of the second period on 57 minutes when Hayden White knocked the ball down the line for George Miller to run onto. He got his shot off early and his powerful strike stung the palms of Howard who pushed it behind.
Labadie tried his luck five minutes later and his low shot caused Howard problems as he spilled it into the path of Miller but the striker had his back to goal and Ward’s cross from the resulting lay-off was held by the Carlisle goalkeeper.
It remained an even contest and Carlisle fashioned a couple of opportunities mid-way through the half but Brad Young’s strike cleared the crossbar while Gibson’s shot was straight at Rushworth.
Taylor made his first change on 65 minutes as he introduced Kieran Phillips for Khan.
It was a game where moments of quality were rare.
A decent bit of link up from the Saddlers came with 11 minutes of normal time remaining when Miller touched the ball down well to Emmanuel Osadebe who shot first time but his effort just swerved over the bar.
Carlisle had one moment of their own and they made theirs count as Jack Armer's teasing cross found substitute Tristan Abrahams who prodded in at the back post with 88 minutes on the clock.
Walsall responded as they went in search of an equaliser. Phillips’ cross struck the crossbar as the clock ticked past 90.
The Saddlers couldn’t find a leveller in five minutes of added time and the hosts saw out the game to make it an unhappy 40th birthday for Head Coach Matt Taylor.