Walsall 0 Brentford 0

Paul Merson's playing career could have ended on a night he insisted he would have turned the television off if this game was being broadcast to the nation.

Walsall's player-manager limped off with a suspected ruptured groin seven minutes before the break and will be sent for a scan that will decide whether his illustrious career has finally ended.

The portents aren't good for Merson, as he hobbled into the post-match press conference with a demeanour that suggests he fears the worst.

The sad fact for Merson is that his injury and a worldclass save from John Ruddy were the two main talking points of a gritty, passionate encounter that lacked quality.

Walsall, who moved into seventh place, will be looking to push on when they visit Port Vale on Saturday and Merson was full of praise for his side's battling qualities.

"That is probably the best result since I have been manager," he said.

"We outfought them and if we play like that at Port Vale, we will win. It wasn't the best game in terms of football and if it was on the television, I would have turned over and watched something else. That is what League One is like, though; that is why we need to get out of it as soon as possible.

"Personally, I felt my groin pop and if it is ruptured, then that is the end of my career. It has eased off slightly, but I don't know whether that is because of the painkilling injection I have had."

Walsall started brightly and Anthony Gerrard's goalbound volley from Merson's corner was blocked by Michael Turner inside two minutes, before the playermanager drifted a free-kick inches past Stuart Nelson's near post, as Walsall threatened to take charge.

However, the Saddlers failed to capitalise on their impressive opening and were indebted to Craig Pead for keeping them on level terms after 15 minutes.

A punt upfield had forced Daniel Fox into conceding a corner and Jay Tabb's outswinger was met by an unmarked Sam Sodje, whose firm header was destined for the top corner until Pead intervened.

Darren Pratley and Michael Husbands both ballooned opportunities over the bar before Matty Fryatt wasted the best chance of a tense opening 45 minutes. Simon Osborn's crafty freekick found the England Under- 19 international unmarked eight yards from goal but his flick header landed safely in the arms of Nelson.

Seven minutes before the interval, Merson was left spreadeagled on the floor after he collapsed in a heap clutching his right groin.

Walsall's lowest crowd of the season had to endure a war of attrition after the break and the two best chances fell to Brentford.

Lloyd Owusu's 20-yard volley drew a great one-handed save from Ruddy, who earned his side a point 12 minutes from the end.

Alex Rhodes whipped in a cross that was met at pointblank range by DJ Campbell, but Ruddy responded with a tremendous reaction save to deny the livewire striker.

Jorge Leit?o was inches away from pinching an injury-time winner but a share of the spoils was just about right.

This game won't live long in the memory, but, for the Walsall player-manager, it might haunt him forever.