DINO Maamria lauded a “brilliant night” for Oldham as his side eventually cruised to a welcome 2-0 victory after making the most of their man advantage against Walsall.

The Saddlers were reduced to 10 early in the second half when Mat Sadler was inexplicably sent off for handball, after which Maamria's men took control.

The goals soon followed as Scott Wilson and then Desire Segbe-Azankpo made things safe, with the victory giving the Latics a timely boost ahead of the weekend trip to Port Vale.

"That's football eh,” commented Maamria. "On Saturday some people thought it was the end of the world but tonight it's been a brilliant night for us.

"I'm delighted for the fans because they've stuck with us, they know the process we're going through and they backed us here from start to finish.

"We were nice and bright in the first 25 minutes or so but then Walsall came back into it. The message from me at half-time was to just get on the front foot again.

"We needed to put them to the sword and push our full-backs on, and in the end it was a very good second half.”

The game was barely 10 seconds old when the Latics came close to a stunning opener but Filipe Morais scooped an angled shot wide following a swift through-ball from Wilson.

After that there was a period of tedium before the Saddlers provided a little inspiration when Alfie Bates fired an effort off target as he met Rory Gaffney's lay-off.

Just before the half-hour mark Walsall threatened again when Rory Holden just couldn't guide his shot on target as he stretched to latch on to Gaffney's tidy pass.

Darrell Clarke's side were having the better of it, but the Latics defence was standing firm.

The hosts finally awoke from their slumber and centre-back David Wheater saw a header comfortably saved by Jack Rose as he attempted to convert a cross from Segbe-Azankpo.

There was a scare for Latics in the 36th minute when an unmarked Dan Scarr nodded wide from Holden's in-swinging corner-kick.

The closest the hosts came to a breakthrough came just two minutes before the break when Rose was forced to dive full length to brilliantly palm away a thumping 25-yard strike from recent capture Chris McCann.

The Latics were handed a major boost in the 52nd minute when their former loanee Sadler was sent off after misjudging Alex Iacovitti's clearance and handling the ball some 40 yards from his own goal.

To rub salt in Walsall's wound the Latics then surged ahead three minutes later when Wilson lashed into the roof of the net from eight yards following neat work from Jonny Smith.

All of a sudden the whole complexion of the game changed and the crowd inside Boundary Park shook off its nerves.

Smith was again the provider in the 69th minute when Segbe-Azankpo made it two, arrowing a low effort past Rose from an acute angle.

There was still time for an appearance late on for 15-year-old substitute Zac Emmerson, who replaced Segbe-Azankpo after being involved in the first team for the first time.

Maamria continued: "It was a convincing win in the end, with a clean sheet, and we've fielded another couple of excellent youngsters who worked so hard.

"The red card was deserved shall we say. We were going through one-on-one so the referee had no option.

"All of the players have really stuck together in what has proved to be a difficult period since the start of the season.

"As a group of players you could see this result meant a lot to them after the game, and to the fans too, of course."

Oldham (4-4-2): De la Paz 6; Hamer 7, Wheater 7, Stott 6, Iacovitti 7; Smith 8, Missilou 6, McCann 8, Morais 7 (Eagles, 85, 6); Segbe-Azankpo 7 (Emmerson, 85, 6), Wilson 8 (Gaskell, 90, 6).

Subs not used: Woods, Smith-Brown, McHale, McKinney

Walsall (4-4-2): Rose 6; Clarke 6, Sadler 4, Scarr 7, Pring 5 (Jules, 46, 6 (Facey, 74, 5); Holden 6, Sinclair 7, Bates 5, Gordon 7; Gaffney 5 (Norman, 56, 6), Adebayo 7

Subs not used: Roberts, McDonald, Liddle, Willis

Referee: Ollie Yates

Attendance: 2,438