Bradford City 2 Walsall 0
The Christmas holiday points target set by Walsall manager Paul Merson is beginning to look a forlorn one as the Saddlers' striking deficiencies were again exposed last night.
Merson had hoped to glean eight or nine points from four festive fixtures but the tally remains at one after a two-goal burst in the space of six first-half minutes earned Bradford their first home league win since October.
Walsall staged something of a fightback in the second-half but rarely threatened to reduce the deficit and improve on their dismal away record. Merson admitted afterwards he was embarrassed by it all.
And with leading scorer Matty Fryatt not in the side after becoming a father, the Saddlers were given a glimpse of what may be to come in January should Fryatt join Jorge Leit?o in leaving the Bescot Stadium as Merson's men drew a blank for the second time in three days.
Merson knows he needs a new striker in the transfer-window, and must also hope he can select himself against Blackpool on Saturday to add some menace to go with the potential again displayed by Ishmel Demontagnac on his return from suspension.
Merson opted to go with a single striker in the shape of Leit?o and a midfield five designed to stifle the home side.
And for the opening half-hour Bradford were barely given a glimpse of the Saddlers' goal until Anthony Gerrard needlessly conceded a free-kick for a high foot against Danny Cadamarteri 25 yards from goal and Marc Bridge-Wilkinson meted out the punishment with a wonderfully-placed curling effort into the top corner.
From a position of relevant comfort Walsall then buckled badly. A terrible square pass from Craig Pead should have been punished by Cadamarteri but the reprieve didn't last long as Bobby Petta made it 2-0 when he collected a loose ball following Richard Edghill's free-kick to drill an angled drive past goalkeeper Joe Murphy.
The former Celtic man's third goal of the season prompted Merson to push Demontagnac alongside Leit?o and the teenager at least provided some attacking impetus.
Bradford keeper Donovan Ricketts was called into action for the first time at the start of the second-half to hold a powerful header from Ian Roper.
With the momentum swinging Walsall's way, Rick-etts was required to make a better stop to keep out a close-range effort from Michael Standing from a Demontagnac cross.
A goal then might have spread panic in the home ranks but City survived their brief examination and Walsall's second defeat in nine games would have been worse but for Murphy's flying save from Bridge-Wilkinson's 30-yarder.