Walsall 2 Bury 4
Coming off the back of a sorry defeat at the hands of Crawley, in the first round of the FA Cup, Bury really needed a good response in this game away at Walsall. Walsall hadnt won at home since the 15th October, when they beat Preston 1-0, who are the next team in line for The Shakers at Gigg Lane. A bad result for Walsall could see them dropping into the relegation zone, so there was much to play for.
Bury kicked off attacking the ‘Tile Choice Stand end. It was a brisk start from both teams, passing the ball around nicely. It was clear from the off that David Amoos pace was going to give the Saddlers defence a real test and the pace and trickery on offer down both flanks for Bury, was going to make for an interesting and hopefully fruitful afternoon. After an early blocked effort by David Amoo, Peter Sweeney picked up the ball on the right side of midfield and after a tracking run parallel to the Saddlers box, let fly with a thunderbolt of a left foot shot that beat Grof directly above his head, clipped the underside of the bar and into the net. This triggered much celebrating by the Shakers fans who were housed in the opposite end. After the re-start, it was much the same for around 10 minutes. Walsall eventually started to find their game and were hustling the Bury players off the ball. Cue some ragged play from the Shakers leading to a couple of good chances for the home team and a couple of good saves from Belford, who was looking in a determined mood. However, this run of play eventually led to a penalty for Walsall. Jamie Paterson seemed to be being shepherded out of the Shakers penalty area and out of harms way but was given room to turn back on himself, only to find Mike Jones leg in the way which he duly fell over. The resulting penalty was easily despatched by a Jon Macken, sending Belford the wrong way. This led to chances at either end as Bury tried to find their feet again with Shane Byrne warming the hands of Walsall keeper Grof as he tried to emulate Sweeneys earlier goal but his shot was comfortably saved. Bury bossed much of the half, with the imperious Sweeney fully in charge of midfield and the two flankers, Jones and Amoo ably assisted by Skarz and Picken, making regular raids down each wing. Bishop was quiet but was drawing a lot of fire which was freeing up other players to create and take chances. Bury let Walsall into the game though for the last 20 minutes and needed to take back the helm for the second half.
Half-time: Walsall 1 Bury 1
Walsall kicked off and Bury were straight at them. Probably with Richie Barkers words still ringing in their ears, Sweeney played the ball out to Jones who cut in from the left and sent a curling shot from the edge of the box that looped into the goal, nestling into the back left hand corner of Grofs net.
This led to a spell of dominance that was to see the Shakers through the game. A short corner found Shumacher lurking on the edge of the penalty area and he duly despatched a beautifully placed shot through a crowd of players to make it 3-1 to the Shakers. The atmosphere in the away end was now electric, as we were expecting more goals with the way the team was playing. Barker decided fresh legs were needed and brought on LJL for Amoo. LJLs first kick of the ball was a pass to a Walsall player, not being a great fan of Lennys footballing ability, my first thoughts were, 'here we go again'. However, after this initial mistake, Lenny started to get into the game showing good control, tight neat passing, which led to him laying on a superb chance for Bishop that he blasted straight at the keeper. Then a pass out wide, from a player who was by now have a ridiculously good game, Peter Sweeney, put Lenny through from the Shakers right flank, he took the ball on a few paces into the box and let rip with fierce shot into the near post of Grof, game over. Further substitutions, Worrall for Byrne and Harrad for Bishop. Again the new additions looked lively and keen to get into the game. Wallsall had a rare foray into the Bury penalty area, leading to a scrappy goal that should have been dealt with better by the Bury defence. One last half chance for Harrad at the very end, leading to a corner for Bury. As soon the corner was taken the ref blew his whistle to bring the game to a close and what a game it was for the Shakers.
Final score: Walsall 2 Bury 4.
Belford: Made some great saves, looked confident and up for the game. Apart from being easily blocked out for Walsalls second goal (some would say illegally) it was a perfect performance.
Skarz: A good solid performance. Linked up well with the wide men and midfield generally.
Picken: Pretty much the same as Skarz, solid and consistent, always with a view to moving the ball forward.
Eastham: Worked well with Sodje, never really looked in any serious trouble, couldve dealt with Walsalls second goal a bit better but the game was won.
Sodje: Well, what do you say about Sodje? He was brilliant. He didnt put a foot wrong, like Eastham, couldve dealt with Walsalls last goal a bit better but that would be unfair to a player whos come back from illness and effectively from being dropped, to proving his critics wrong yet again. My hat goes off to him.
Byrne: Very lively and busy but can be a bit impetuous in the challenge. I thought he had his best game yet for Bury, more controlled and less rushed.
Jones: Lively, pacy and tenatious. Gave away a penalty but scored a great goal.
Sweeney: Ive always liked Sweeney since he joined Bury and thought he was highly influential in what went on last season. He was epically good in this game and it was, without doubt, the best Ive seen him play. As Barker says, with a left foot like his, he should score more goals like that. Id be glad if he did but he brings so much more to the Bury team, I dont think it really matters if he scores or not, thats not why hes there. If I was scoring the players out of 10, hed go all the way up to 11.
Shumacher: A great captains performance. Didnt play as deep as he has in recent games and got forward more with excellent results. Great typical Schumacher goal.
Amoo: His pace frightened the Walsall defence to death. Just the fact he can run as fast with the ball as some players can run without it, relieves the pressure on midfield and allows us to play higher up the pitch, stretching the opposition giving the ball players the space to do their stuff. If we can keep him for the rest of the season, we will be a force to be reckoned with in this division.
Bishop: Didnt get too many opportunities. He was heavily marked but drew a lot of fire to let the midfielders dominate the game. Had a good chance from a ball from Lenny, that you would usually bet on him to stick away. Hes a real asset at the moment, lets hope he stays fit.
Lenny: Gave the ball away with his first kick. After that he was brilliant. Scored a good goal, I always said he was a goodn!
Worrall: Couple of lively runs but had no time to make an impression. He had a spat with one of the Walsall players after the game which led to stewards pulling them apart. Not sure what that was all about.
Harrad: Had a half chance at the death. Will this man ever score for Bury? To be fair to him, I think he needs more than five minutes to get his first goal...........or maybe not!
This was a great all round team performance and just what we needed to do after a poor performance against Crawley in the cup.
Next up, Preston at home. We really need to start to improve our consistency, especially at home. We have the players who have the talent to do it, I sometimes think that they need to believe that too and to truly say weve stepped up a level, that really needs to happen soon and hopefully the Preston game will be the one.
Up The Shakers.