Crystal Palace 3 Walsall 0
Walsall made under-strength Crystal Palace work hard to gain a place in the second round of the Carling Cup.
The Saddlers hit the bar twice in a goalless first half but Palace found their stride after the break and earned victory thanks to Tony Popovic ' s controversial penalty and late strikes by Danny Granville and Michael Hughes.
Palace manager Iain Dowie had one eye on this weekend's Championship match against Stoke and made ten changes - with only striker Wayne Andrews surviving from the side which defeated Plymouth last Saturday.
It was Andrews who missed an absolute sitter five minutes before the break, firing wide of an open goal from ten yards after Walsall goalkeeper Andy Oakes had spilled Hughes' 30-yard effort.
First-choice forwards Andrew Johnson and Jon Macken - both rested - would surely have taken the chance.
But Palace were fortunate not to be two down by the time Andrews made his astonishing error.
In the seventh minute, lively Saddlers winger Mark Wright fired player- manager Paul Merson's right-wing cross against the bar after finding space 15 yards from goal.
On 37 minutes Walsall were denied again - striker Jorge Leitao improvising a brilliant volley from the penalty spot which reserve goalkeeper Julian Speroni managed to tip on to the woodwork.
Having made so many changes, it was understandable that Palace lacked cohesion - and they almost conceded after three minutes, Wright bursting clear down the right but shooting well over.
Dowie's men did create opportunities of their own.
Tommy Black - playing his first match for the club since May 2004 after recovering from a broken leg - twice sent Andrews clear but the former Oldham forward was wasteful on both occasions.
The first goal came four minutes after the break.
Danny Butterfield's shot from just inside the area appeared to strike Daniel Fox on the arm. But referee Jarnail Singh ruled that the defender's intervention had been deliberate. Popovic beat Oakes from the spot.
Popovic put a free header wide 15 minutes from time before Granville hit a brilliant second after 82 minutes, collecting the ball on the left and cutting inside before curling a 25-yard effort into Oakes' top-left corner.
Palace made it three four minutes later, Hughes tapping into an empty net after Oakes had pushed substitute Lewis Grabban's shot into his path to seal a result which was harsh on the League One side.