Walsall 2 Gillingham 0
Paul Merson may just have uncovered Walsall's very own version of Christophe Dugarry after Eric Skora took the Bescot Stadium by storm
On-loan midfielder Skora made an immediate impact with his probing passes and high-octane style and if Merson can persuade both Skora and his club, Preston North End, to extend his loan deal beyond the initial month, then Walsall's season could be transformed.
David Moyes snapped up the French star in 2001 during his tenure as Preston boss, but a bad knee injury ruled him out of the equation for 12 months and Skora is obviously a class above League One, as he proved against Gillingham.
A succession of excellent set-pieces endeared him to the home fans and he capped a wonderful performance with an superb goal just before the hour mark, doubling Walsall's lead after Ishmel Demontagnac's opener.
That was the catalyst for Skora to take complete control of the engine room.
When Dugarry arrived at Birmingham City in 2002, he transformed their season and Merson will be hoping that Skora can have the same galvanising effect on Walsall as he rebuilds his career.
An ebullient Merson was in high spirits during his post-match press conference.
"Eric was a different class and how he never got the man of the match award, I will never know - they must have been well tanked up upstairs," joked Merson, referring to the sponsor's decision to award Jorge Leit?o with the man-ofthematch prize.
"He was absolutely outstanding today. If he keeps on playing like that, then he will be in the Premiership.
"There is no question about it, he is a class player. He stood out like a beacon. He didn't waste any possession and he just wanted to come and play at Walsall.
"He enjoys his football and it was as good a debut performance as I have seen for a long time."
However, while Skora rightly took the plaudits, there were plenty of worthy performances from the supporting cast.
Goalkeeper Joe Murphy was a spectator for large chunks of the afternoon but his one-handed save from Matthew Jarvis, ten minutes before Skora's goal, was arguably the turning point of the game.
The two loan signings have undoubtedly lifted Walsall to a higher plane, but the contribution of their home-grown talent shouldn't be ignored, either.
Demontagnac has only played six times for Walsall's first team, but such is his impact that he has been called up by England's Under-18 team for a fixture in Turkey tomorrow.
He terrorised the hapless John Wallis and delivered a stream of teasing crosses, as well as bagging a fine goal.
He is by no means the finished article at the tender age of 17, but he possesses raw talent in abundance and his embryonic career will have already alerted Premiership scouts.
While Demontagnac was patrolling the left flank with great aplomb, a player at the other end of the age spectrum was proving equally adept on the opposite side.
Leit?o will never consider himself to be a winger, but his aerial presence was a constant threat to a fragile Gillingham defence and he struck a post, as well as being instrumental in creating Skora's goal.
There were a plethora of positives for Merson to chew over as he prepares his team for next week's trip to Milton Keynes Dons.
Whisper it quietly, but they may finally be discarding their inconsistency as a record of three wins out of their last four fixtures testifies.
They are still firmly ensconced in mid- table, though, and while Merson can see green shoots poking through, there are still issues that need to be addressed.
While Matty Fryatt and Dario Larrosa worked tirelessly up-front, there was a distinct lack of potency from the duo and Merson may have to go back to the drawing board regarding his strike partnership.
Nevertheless, this was definitely an uplifting day for the player-manager. If Skora can remain fit and Merson can persuade him to extend his stay beyond the initial month, then Walsall are likely to be looking towards the play-off zone, rather than downwards.
It might seem presumptuous to heap such expectation on Skora, but he really was that impressive and while the chants of 'sign him up' from home supporters were extremely optimistic, he could well be the man to replace Merson's on-pitch influence.
Ever since his absence from the action due to a groin strain, the side have lacked the incisive cutting edge and ability to play the killer pass which Merson brings, but Skora could be the solution.
Loan signings can often make or break a manager, but Merson looks to be on a winner with this mercurial Frenchman.