TYLER Roberts came back to haunt Oxford United with the winning goal as Walsall tasted victory on the road for the first time in 2017.

The teenager, who did not score a league goal during a spell on loan with the U’s last season, tucked a precise finish into the net on 53 minutes.

It doubled Walsall’s lead, which could hardly be argued against given the quality of chances they created in a first half where Erhun Oztumer opened the scoring.

United did not get going until the final 20 minutes and halved the deficit through Ryan Ledson’s penalty.

But they could not find a late equaliser as their unbeaten start to the league season at home came to an end.

A week on from the 3-1 defeat at Blackpool, boss Pep Clotet made two changes.

Jon Obika replaced Wes Thomas, who picked up a knee injury during the week, while Gino van Kessel came in for James Henry.

United started off brightly enough, moving the ball well against a Saddlers side who packed the midfield.

Jon Obika got an early shot away which was saved by goalkeeper Mark Gillespie, who was also alert a minute later when Ricardinho tried to catch him out from near the touchline.

That was as good as it got before the break for the hosts, who steadily lost their way trying – and failing – to pick their way through Walsall’s white wall.

Walsall’s confidence grew as the half wore on and Luke Leahy hit the woodwork with a 19th-minute header, although the offside flag was up.

U’s goalkeeper Simon Eastwood was then stretched by Kieron Morris, whose low drive was only kept out at the second attempt.

The chance had come about from a quick Walsall break after a move from the home side broke down on the halfway line.

The warning signs were there, but United looked to continue to play their way out of trouble and conceded just after the half-hour mark.

A forward pass from John Mousinho was cut out and Joe Edwards beat the full back to get into the box, where his deflected cross looped over Eastwood and was bundled in from a yard by Oztumer.

The same combination almost produced a carbon copy four minutes later, but from Morris’s cross the goalscorer volleyed wide.

Walsall were getting joy every time they came forward and with their next attack two former United loanees opened up their former side.

Zeli Ismail, who had caused Ricardinho lots of problems on the right, cut through and played in Roberts to force Eastwood into another save.

A minute later the goalkeeper was needed again, this time to deny Oztumer after the Turkish playmaker was left totally unmarked on the edge of the penalty area.

United will have been relieved to get into the interval just one goal adrift and made a change at the break.

Henry replaced Obika, which moved Van Kessel, who had been on a different wavelength to his teammates out wide before the break, into a central role.

Unfortunately for the hosts, within eight minutes of the restart Walsall’s second goal arrived.

Ledson lost out in a 50/50 challenge – a sure sign United were off their game – and Oztumer slid a pass in for Roberts, whose low finish crept inside the far post.

The hosts now had a mountain to climb and for a while they looked devoid of ideas.

Passing through Walsall was proving ineffective and Van Kessel was unable to hang on to high balls forward.

But with 20 minutes remaining Gillespie made an outstanding save to keep out Henry’s volley, which seemed to turn the momentum.

Van Kessel prodded a shot on to the post when Ledson’s effort deflected into his path, as United finally began to exert some pressure.

They got back into the game when Hall, United’s one consistent threat, lured Leahy into an ill-advised lunge in the box.

Ledson took on the penalty duties and calmly sent Gillespie the wrong way to score.

There were still 12 minutes remaining, but were unable to build on the goal.

While United threw Curtis Nelson up front for the closing stages, Walsall held firm to record their first win on the road since Boxing Day.

Oxford Utd (4-2-3-1): Eastwood, Mousinho, Williamson, Nelson, Ricardinho, Hall, Ledson, Rothwell (Ruffels 75), Van Kessel, Payne (Mowatt 58), Obika (Henry HT).

Unused subs: Shearer, Carroll, Martin, Xemi.

Booked: Rothwell.

Walsall (4-5-1): Gillespie, Devlin, Guthrie, Wilson, Leahy, Ismail (Kinsella 79), Oztumer, Chambers, Edwards, Morris, T Roberts (Bakayoko 74).

Unused subs: L Roberts, Flanagan, Donnellan, Kouhyar, Agyei.

Booked: None.

Referee: Scott Oldham (Lancashire).

Attendance: 6,895 (403 visitors).