Walsall were made to pay for a slow start at the Lamex Stadium as they fell to defeat against Stevenage.
Rollin Menayese’s own goal and Chris Lines’ strike saw the hosts race into a 2-0 lead after just eight minutes.
Brendan Kiernan replied for the Saddlers, who did improve in the second half, but it wasn’t enough as Jake Taylor made sure The Boro claimed all three points with a goal in stoppage time at the end of the game.
Matt Taylor made four changes to the team that started the 3-3 draw with Newport County.
Kiernan came back into the starting line-up after recovering from COVID-19.
Joss Labadie, Conor Wilkinson and Zak Mills also came into the side.
Emmanuel Osadebe, Kieran Phillips and Liam Kinsella all dropped to the bench while Ash Taylor was missing from the 18.
The Saddlers got off to a disastrous start as Stevenage took the lead with the first attack of the game when Luke Oneill’s cross was turned into his own net by Menayese.
It got worse for the visitors as Stevenage doubled their lead seven minutes later when Chris Lines got on the end of Jake Reeves’ cross at the back post and nodded the ball past Carl Rushworth.
Walsall found life difficult in the first half and struggled to keep possession.
Their first direct effort on goal came after 28 minutes when Otis Khan’s corner was headed out to Stephen Ward who struck first time but his powerful shot was blocked.
Stevenage controlled the remainder of the first half in what was a frustrating opening 45 minutes from Taylor’s men who needed to re-group at the interval.
The Saddlers made a bright start to the second half and had a couple of early openings through Ward and Wilkinson but neither of them found the target.
Walsall’s improvement continued and they eventually found a route back into the game with 20 minutes to go when Earing slipped the ball through to Kiernan on the left-hand side of the area and the winger cut in on his right foot and arrowed in a low shot into the bottom corner.
The Saddlers grew in confidence as they went in search of an equaliser. Khan delivered a cross that Phillips tried to guide home but the ball wouldn’t sit for him and it was cleared out to Wilkinson on the right-hand side of the area and he tried to loft the ball into the top corner but Christy Pym was equal to it.
Stevenage looked to frustrate the Saddlers and were well organised as they defended their lead.
Walsall couldn’t find a way through and Stevenage eventually put the game beyond doubt in added time as Taylor slotted home from close range to complete a disappointing afternoon for Taylor’s men.