Walsall 2 Chesterfield 3

Instead of a hoped for promotion fight Paul Merson seems to be heading for yet another battle to save his job after Walsall managed to transform a certain win into an embarrassing defeat at the hands of an ordinary Chesterfield side.

A week after losing to a Yeovil team propping up the League One table, the Saddlers couldn't even hang on to a two-goal half-time lead in front of their own fans.

Merson responded by calling the players in for extra training yesterday, but after a bright start to the season his men have now won only one of the last seven league games.

The manager complained about his players lacking concentration and even half-time discipline when he heard them laughing and joking, but I'm afraid he needs to look more closely at his own performance as the man in charge of a sinking ship.

He was out-thought eight days earlier by Yeovil's manager who made two substitutions and completely changed the pattern of the game, and on Saturday it was Roy MacFarland's turn to pull a fast one by introducing a couple of subs at the start of the second half.

Afterwards Merson pointed the finger at his players and argued that it wouldn't happen in the Premiership.

Perhaps not, but Walsall are two levels below the Premiership, and if Merson is to survive again he will have to learn to manage the kind of players a club like Walsall can afford.

When asked if he was starting to worry about his job, however, Merson replied "no", but added: "I am not standing for this too much longer."

From a confident, slick-moving team in the first half when they scored two quality goals, the Saddlers descended into a panicky outfit who could hardly string together a couple of decent passes, and had the defensive jitters whenever Chesterfield crossed the ball into their penalty box.

Walsall couldn't even blame their failure on having to play rookie goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin when the experienced Andy Oakes strained ligaments in his hand during the pre-match warm-up.

Irishman Gilmartin, aged 18, was making his Football League debut a few days after signing as a professional, and while he was a little hesitant at times, he pulled off two very good saves.

Today Merson will attempt to sign a goalkeeper on loan to cover for Oakes, and he has a man in mind.

It all began so well. The game was only 14 minutes old when Simon Osborn's pass released Matty Fryatt to cross for Jorge Leit?o to score his third goal of the season and give the home side the lead.

A couple of the usual hairy moments followed in defence before Gilmartin, Danny Fox and Fryatt combined to set up Mark Wright who took the chance well to add a second in the 35th minute.

Game over? Not with this Walsall outfit. To the amazement and anger of the supporters they backed off the opposition in the second half and made Chesterfield appear unstoppable.

Spireites substitutes Wayne Allison and Colin Larkin combined to stroll through the Saddlers' hapless back four, and Larkin saw a shot come back off a post.

The escape was short-lived. Almost immediately Kevan Hurst's corner penetrated the defence for Mark Allott to head a simple goal, and the same player equalised in 68 minutes following yet another Hurst corner that should have been dealt with.

Between those goals Merson decided to get on the pitch and sort things out, but he hasn't the legs for that job these days, despite the occasional sweeping pass.

With 13 minutes left a straight-forward cross from former Albion defender Shane Nicholson reached the unmarked Allison who headed the visitors' winner.

At Yeovil Walsall's best player was new signing Michael Husbands, yet he had to watch this match from the subs' bench until 15 minutes from the end. His arrival was much too late, but as though to underline the mistake of his omission, he set up a chance for Wright to equalise in the 79th minute. Unfortunately the winger's shot was poor and Barry Roche saved.

Chesterfield boss Roy McFarland was dismissed from the dugout just before the end for having a verbal blast at the match officials, but by then he had done his job.

And explaining how he turned things round, the former England player said: "We told the players to get the ball in the box as often as we could because we felt Walsall looked a bit uneasy and their goalkeeper didn't come for crosses.

"You have to do that with an inexperienced keeper, but I don't think that was a major factor."