Walsall 0 Oldham Athletic 2

Last updated : 18 February 2006 By Footymad Previewer
Managerless Walsall really are a ship without a rudder since the departure of Paul Merson.

They dropped into the relegation zone in midweek and there was little improvement against Oldham as they slumped to their eighth home defeat of the season.

Oldham collected only their first away win in five games and they lifted morale with two goals in the space of two minutes from Luke Beckett and Paul Warne to the delight of their 543 fans.

But Walsall's slump is of more concern as their much-changed side is struggling to find some form and recognition and appear firm candidates for the drop as they have now failed to win any of their last eight league games.

The current uncertainty prevails throughout the club and this will not be resolved until they appoint a new manager.

Chris Nicholl and Stuart Watkiss, two candidates for the vacancy, were in the crowd as was Birmingham's Steve Bruce on a scouting mission.

But on the strength of a disappointing goalless first half it was difficult to spot a player who attracted his attention.

Walsall's lightweight side struggled badly to make an impact against a rugged Oldham outfit that has been struggling badly away from home in recent weeks.

The Latics were the more dangerous with Paul Warne and Chris Taylor both going close to opening their account.

Fortunately for Walsall their central defenders, Ian Roper and Anthony Gerrard, were in top form as they did much to keep the Saddlers on level terms.

They were aided by an Oldham attack which also lacked finishing power in the first period to the frustration of manager Ronnie Moore.

Walsall's only chance of taking the lead occurred just before the break when Andrew Barrowman, a recent signing from Birmingham City, just missed a low cross from Kevin James only yards away from a vacant Oldham goal.

James produced a second-half free-kick which Oldham's keeper, Lee Grant, saved well to keep the Latics in the game, while Richard Butcher was guilty of a bad miss when he failed to connect with a Paul Warne cross.

Walsall sent on latest signing Scott Fitzgerald, but it had little effect as the Saddlers were sent spinning to defeat in two disastrous minutes.

In the 72nd minute Oldham steamed ahead when a long ball from Butcher was knocked on by Warne into the path of Beckett who scored with a low, close-range shot for his ninth goal of the season.

Two minutes later Gerrard's intended clearance hit Warne and cannoned into the net to seal the game.