Wigan Athletic slipped to just their second defeat in the Final Third Development League this season as Walsall clinched a 1-0 victory in a close fought contest.
WIGAN ATHLETIC 0
Latics missed out on the chance to extend their lead at the top of the Final Third Development League to five points, tripping up for the second time this season against Walsall, with Saddler's striker Danny Griffiths scoring the only goal in a tight game as the hosts won 1-0.
Walsall became the first side to beat Latics this season back in September when they won at Christopher Park 5-3, with the Saddlers continuing to be a thorn in their sides this afternoon.
It was a tough game for both sides, with the uneven nature of the pitch proving difficult to gain full control of the ball.
The first half only kicked into life in the final minutes after an opening 40 minutes of back and forth possession in a midfield battle.
A touch of quality from Guillermo Andres almost gave Latics the lead on 41 minutes when Joey Johnson set the ball to the Spanish striker on the edge of the area, with Andres smartly turning and firing a shot low towards the bottom left corner, only for Walsall goalkeeper Liam Roberts to tip the ball around the post.
Marko Marosi was finally called into action with a minute of the half remaining when Griffiths raced through down the right channel, attempting to chip Marosi who closed the angle as the ball nestled into the side netting.
Marosi was back in the thick of it moments later when he leaped across his line to turn Reece Flanagan's 20-yard drive around the post.
The second half started with a similar theme, but the introduction of Australian forward Patrick Antelmi saw Latics with extra life up front.
With play in the final third starting to come together, Latics were dealt a hammer blow when Walsall scored against the run of play.
Griffiths found his way through the middle and with just Marosi to beat he lashed the ball into the bottom left corner to give his side the lead.
Latics couldn't create that crucial chance to find an equaliser despite a final attacking substitution which saw that introduction of Under 18 wide man Jordan Flores.
Despite the defeat Latics remain top of the Final Third Development League, a point ahead of Walsall and two points ahead of third place Wrexham.
Walsall: Roberts, Heath, Hemmings, George, Rowley, McQuilkin (Rush 85), McKenzie (Bakayoko 75), Flanagan, Griffiths (Kinsella 85), Hewitt, Morris
Unused sub: Lovett
Latics: Marosi, Leigh, Balogun, Wilson, McNally, Meadows, Phillips, Ainscough (Flores 77), Andres (Antelmi 57), Johnson, Jennings (Chow 45)
Unused subs: Hamilton, Poole