EMILE Acquah’s late goal handed Southend United their first win of the season at Walsall this afternoon.

The Shrimpers substitute fired home the only goal of the game just two minutes from time after the Saddlers’ Elijah Adebayo had failed to score from the penalty spot.

And Acquah’s effort ended a run of 16 games without a victory for the bottom of the table Blues.

Southend wasted a huge chance to take the lead after just two minutes when a long clearance from Mark Oxley found Brandon Goodship completely unmarked in front of goal but the striker saw his effort blocked by the legs of Walsall goalkeeper Liam Roberts.

Another clearance from Oxley then also caused problems the hosts with an outstretched Roberts only just managing to stop it going over his head.

Walsall soon hit back with Alfie Bates having a low 20 yard effort smartly saved by Oxley but Blues were soon back on top with Timothee Dieng bursting into the box and forcing Roberts into a fine double save with his feet.

Moments later, a left wing free-kick from Jason Demetriou curled just inches wide of the right post and, just before the break, another free-kick from Demetriou caused problem for the hosts.

This time his free-kick from the right hand side found Dieng whose header was tipped wide of the left post by Roberts.

After the break, Bates send a 20 yard shot wide of the right post for the hosts before Blues made an attacking change in the 64th minute with Acquah replacing John White.

Eleven minutes after the alteration, Goodship saw a curling 20 yard shot parried away by Roberts before the hosts hit back with skipper Dan Scarr having a close range header superbly saved by Oxley.

In reply, Ashley Nathaniel-George saw a low effort smothered by Roberts before the Saddlers wasted a golden chance to score in the 82nd minute with Adebayo failing to score from the spot.

The penalty was awarded after Tom Clifford brought Cameron Norman down in the box but Adebayo saw his effort strike the top of the crossbar on its way over the goal.

Blues replied with Olayinka firing over from long range before ex Shrimper Emmanuel Osadebe forced Oxley into action with a low effort at the other end of the pitch.

But, after surviving the scare, Southend broke forward and bagged what proved to be the game’s only goal just two minutes from time.

Nathaniel-George started the move with a bright burst forward before rolling the ball into the path of Acquah who turned to fire a deflected low, left footed shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

Walsall were unable to fight back and suffered a further blow late in stoppage time with Alfie Bates being shown a second yellow card.