Sky Bet League One
Rochdale 1 Walsall 2
THERE may be another long season ahead for Rochdale - unless they start getting points on the board soon.
Keith Hill's men survived relegation to League Two by the skin of their teeth on the final day of the last campaign.
And, after taking just four points from a possible 15, Dale could find themselves fighting to beat the drop once more.
Josh Ginnelly and Zeli Ismail's goals were enough to secure the three points for Walsall, as they continue their impressive start to the season, sitting fourth place in the table.
Hill had told disgruntled supporters this week to phone Dale chairman Chris Dunphy if they wanted him sacked.
But the fans might want to hold off for a while, as it was far from a sloppy performance from Dale, who battled well, especially in the second-half.
Hillís side started the brighter of the two, as well, and nearly went in front within the first few minutes.
Matt Done's free-kick went just wide of Walsall goalkeeper Liam Roberts' post and then Callum Camps' resulting rebound went inches over the crossbar.
Walsall, were dangerous on the break, with recent signing, striker Morgan Ferrier, causing problems for Rochdale's defence.
The former Arsenal trainee was proving to be a constant menace up front, as was Andy Cook, another new arrival at the Bescot Stadium.
And the hurrying and harrying of Dale's backline proved fruitful when Walsall took the lead, in somewhat fortuitous circumstances, on the half-hour mark.
Harrison McGahey passed the ball back to Magnus Norman, but the on-loan Fulham stopper, on his home debut, kicked it straight to Ginnelly and the midfielder's effort from the edge of the box took a deflection off Jordan Williams and went into the back of the net.
The visitors should have made it two on the stroke of half-time when Cook met Luke Leahy's cross, but the striker headed the ball wide of the post.
Ferrier continued to be a thorn in Dale's side and it looked ominous when he went sprinting down the right flank, outrunning two of the home team's defenders.
He crossed a great ball into the box but, such was Ferrier's pace, Cook couldn't reach it in time.
Dean Keates' men kept pushing forward and nearly made it three in the 56th minute when Isaiah Osbourn's free-kick was floated into the box and met by Ismail, only for Norman to make a decent save.
The it was Dale's turn to to close as they searched for the leveller.
Camps crossed at the back post for Calvin Andrew, but the substitute headed the ball across the goal.
Walsall added their second in the 78th minute.
Ismail, who had replaced Ginnelly at half-time, made his way into the area, turned and fired the ball past Norman.
Rochdale pulled a goal back three minutes later when Andrew's header hit the post and Camps hit the rebound beyond Roberts.
The Walsall stopper pulled off a stunning save a minute later when he tipped Camps' curling ball around the post.
Dale rallied as they looked for an equaliser, with Camps again going close.
And they received a boost as full-time approached when Ismail was shown a second yellow card by referee Graham Salisbury.
Cook hit the ball straight at Norman at the other end as Dale kept applying the pressure, but it wasn't to be enough.
Hill said it was a disappointing day for his team.
He explained: "We are working hard, but we can't keep making the mistakes we are making.
"We have to fight hard and have a winning mentality, but today we played into the opponents' hands.
"I can understand their being a little anxiety, but not based on the way we played today."
Keates said: "We showed a good work ethic.
"Full credit to the players - to a man, they were outstanding."
Rochdale: Norman; Rafferty, McNulty, McGahey, Williams; Camps, Perkins (Inman, 69), Done (Ntlhe, 85), Rathbone (Andrew, 55); Henderson and Wilbraham.
Substitutes not used: Moore, Cannon, Delaney and Randall.
Walsall: Roberts; Devlin, Fitzwater, Guthrie, Leahy; Dobson, Morris (Wilson, 90), Osbourne, Ginnelly (Ismail, 45); Cook, Ferrier (Gordon, 67).
Substitutes not used: Dunn, Kinsella, Kouhyar and Candlin.