The final scoreline was harsh on Walsall, but that does not detract from another accomplished performance from Cheltenham Town.
They moved up to second in the table ahead of Tuesday’s home match against third-placed Cambridge United, who were not in action on Saturday.
A fourth win in succession in all competitions was comfortable in the end, with three unanswered goals in the second half, but Walsall showed in the first half why they have been so hard to beat this term.
Darrell Clarke’s side arrived having drawn all five of their matches on the road in League Two and they were the better side in the first half, with the slope and wind in their favour.
Bournemouth loan striker Jake Scrimshaw crashed a shot against the underside of the crossbar in the 42nd minute, with goalkeeper Josh Griffiths beaten.
West Brom loanee Griffiths returned from an England Under-20 appearance against Aston Villa and was picked ahead of Scott Flinders in what must have been one of Michael Duff’s toughest calls of the season so far.
Flinders had performed so well in the previous two matches, but he had to settle for a place on the bench and for the first time since joining the club in August 2017, he has a battle on his hands to reclaim the starting shirt.
Griffiths put in an assured performance and made one diving save low to his right in the closing stages of the game.
Walsall put Cheltenham under pressure early on, by stifling their attempts to build from the back, forcing some errors and only a perfectly timed block from Ben Tozer denied ex-Robins loanee Elijah Adebayo after one loose pass from Ellis Chapman in the fifth minute.
Liam Kinsella went down in the box after a challenge from Liam Sercombe, but the Walsall midfielder cautioned for simulation after a theatrical fall after 10 minutes.
If Sercombe was perhaps slightly fortunate not to be penalised for that one, he certainly did not let it affect his performance.
He was the game’s outstanding player, showing glimpses of brilliance in the first half and then dominating in the second.
The only time Cheltenham seriously threatened before the break was a glancing header by Andy Williams from Chris Hussey’s cross which hit the inside of the post.
Duff demanded more physicality from his players at half-time and once they edged ahead in the 50th minute through an own goal, the outcome was never in any serious doubt.
The increasingly effective long throw-ins of Tozer unlocked an opposition defence again, with Dan Scarr heading one into his own net.
Alfie May screamed for a penalty five minutes later after Will Boyle nodded down a Hussey corner at the far post, but his appeals were ignored.
The second breakthrough was on its way however, with Matty Blair opening his account for the club with his first goal since May 2019, when he netted for Doncaster Rovers against Charlton Athletic in the League One play-off semi-finals.
It was a booming near post finish after Williams’ effort was blocked and fell into his path, but Blair had been involved earlier in the move after receiving a sumptuous pass from Sercombe in the 58th minute.
Whether he is supposed to be at right-back, wing-back, right midfield or even on the right of a front three, it is unlikely to make much difference to Blair’s approach because of the amount of ground he covers.
He has a huge amount of energy, plenty of pace and he has been exactly the sort of signing his CV suggested he should be when he first appeared during the summer friendlies.
Blair, like Sercombe and Williams, has helped strengthen an already united dressing room with plenty of personality, knowledge and high professional standards.
On the opposite flank, Hussey showed once again why many rate him as the division’s best and it was his cross that Tozer touched in for the third to wrap things up in the 89th minute.
By that time, Walsall had already seen a second player have his name taken by referee Sam Purkiss for diving in the box and made all five substitutions.
They knew it was not going to be their day, but on this evidence few teams will beat the Saddlers 3-0 this season.
Cheltenham Town: Griffiths; Raglan, Tozer, Boyle; Blair, Thomas, Sercombe, Chapman, Hussey; May (Lloyd 86), Williams (Reid 90). Subs not used: Flinders, Sang, Clements, Freestone, Azaz.
Walsall: Roberts; Norman, Scarr, Jules, Cockerill-Mollett (Clarke 70); Holden, Guthrie (McDonald 70), Kinsella, Osadebe (Sinclair 87); Adebayo (Lavery 70), Scrimshaw (Nolan 87). Subs not used: Rose, White.
Referee: Sam Purkiss.
Star Man: Liam Sercombe.