MK Dons will play the first leg of their play-off semi-final against Huddersfield Town at stadiummk on Saturday 12th May, 12.30pm kick-off, after losing their final League 1 game of the season.
Having to play the final 25 minutes of the game with ten men due to an injury to third substitute Luke Chadwick, leaving him unable to continue, the Dons couldn't get the equalising goal they were looking for.
With Walsall taking the lead inside the first 20 minutes through Will Grigg, the Dons spent a lot of time chasing the game and will be disappointed not to have tested Jimmy Walker in the Walsall goal more often, despite a lot of pressure in the final third.
With both sides trying to maintain control of the game, it was Walsall who fashioned the most likely chances in the first half, with a flurry of attempted through balls being cut out or finding the onrushing forwards narrowly offside.
After just ten minutes, Alan Smith looked to have released Daniel Powell down the middle, but an offside went up, stopping what would have been a goal scoring opportunity
Straight up the other end from the resulting free kick, a shot from Adam Chambers from distance rebounded off of a couple of players into the path of Emanuel Ledesma who, one on one, tried to finish to the bottom left of the goal; forcing a great save from David Martin.
With the game well poised and both sides looking like creating chances, a couple came the Dons way, with Alan Smith trying to release Charlie MacDonald who just missed out on controlling the ball, denying him a chance to be through on goal.
With Smith trying to find the right pass for the Dons, it was the flair of Ledesma that was causing most of the problems for the Dons, driving past players and creating chances, one of which he blasted into the side netting, almost giving Walsall the lead.
As Walsall began to create more chances, the momentum started going their way, and they emerged with three on one as Adam Chicksen was forced into some solid defending to deny Walsall the lead, clearing away.
It was then the Saddlers who took the lead as Ledesma got the ball in the middle of the pitch and released Grigg down the left, and he drove inside before a slip from Tom Flanagan allowed Grigg the space to finish into the far corner, giving Walsall the lead.
After the goal, chances were few and far between, as most of the play seemed to be controlled in the middle of the park, much of which through Potter and Gleeson, though they were unable to play the killer pass.
As the second half came around, the Dons looked to be getting back on top, with some tight play in the final third of the pitch.
As it was in the first half however, the speed and style of Ledesma continued to cause problems, as he was at the forefront of most Walsall attacks, combining well with Grigg, Nicholls and Paterson.
With the hour mark approaching, the Dons kept finding the space around the area, but several shots found their way over the bar and wide, with Walker continuing to have little to do in terms of shot stopping.
The pace of Chicksen and Powell down the right hand side seemed to look the likeliest area to produce a goal, but the Dons remained wary of the threat Walsall still carried going forward.
Karl Robinson tried everything to get a goal, bringing on Jabo Ibehre and Jay O'Shea for Alan Smith and Dean Bowditch, before Chadwick replaced Chicksen in a strong offensive change.
Despite the added pressure, the Dons were unable to break down the back line of Walsall, who were handed an advantage when Chadwick limped off the field, leaving just ten men on the field whilst chasing the game.
It was Walsall who came closest to scoring the game's second, as a breakaway fell to Alex Nicholls, who was unmarked and one on one with Martin, but somehow fired wide to the right, keeping some hope alive.
As full time approached, Jay O'Shea and Potter had long range shots fly over the bar, with the Dons' best chance coming with the ball bobbling through to MacDonald in the area, but the quick Saddlers keeper knocked the ball clear.
It wasn't to be for the Dons, as the ten men couldn't find the goal, and after five minutes of injury time at the end of the game, the whistle blew on the Dons' regular season, and all heads turned to the play-offs.
MK Dons: Martin; Chicksen (Chadwick 65), Williams, Flanagan, Lewington; Potter, Gleeson; Powell, Smith (Ibehre 59), Bowditch (O'Shea 59); MacDonald
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Collins.
Walsall: Walker; Beevers, Butler, Smith, Sadler; Paterson (Hurst 75), Chambers, Mantom, Nicholls; Ledesma, Grigg (Macken 69)
Subs not used: Westlake, Grof, Lancashire.
Report by Stephen Fletcher