Tom Pope’s first goal for the club isn’t enough to beat higher opposition in another entertaining and promising game for the Shakers.
David Flitcroft’s men made their first appearance of the 2015/16 season at Gigg Lane on Tuesday night against a strong Blackburn Rovers outfit in front of a healthy crowd.
Since the squad numbers were announced 24 hours before, the ever-impressive Christian Walton took the reigns in his No.1 shirt, whilst the newly established partnership of Leon Clarke and Tom Pope continued up top due to the injury of Ryan Lowe amongst others.
As both teams began the penultimate game of pre-season in the pouring rain it quickly changed to blinding sunshine as Rovers kicked-off and retained possession for the opening few minutes.
minute when Blackburn had the first clear-cut chance of the game. After some great hold-up play by Nathan Delfouneso, he laid it off to John O’Sullivan, who unleashed a powerful shot that rested in Walton’s arms.thIt wasn’t until the 7
Bury continued to press well, like they had done at Macclesfield and Morecambe, to force Gary Bowyer’s side into errors and resort to launching the ball forward.
minute, Craig Conway found a bit of space on the edge of the Shakers box. His low shot skidded off the wet surface and forced Walton into a low save to make sure it didn’t creep in. Seconds later and Lee Williamson’s shot was deflected by the Bury defence onto the crossbar, as the game began to slowly come to life.stPossession switched many times before the next memorable chance occurred. On the 21
minute as an in-swinging Chris Hussey free-kick met Tom Soares, who touched it with his head onto Tom Pope at the back post for an easy tap-in. The well-worked set piece brought the Shakers fans to life as Flitcroft’s men stuck to the task and continued to play the ball out from the back with confidence.thBury opened the scoring on the 25
Three minutes later and Walton produced another superb reactive save as Adam Henley rolled the ball back from the right wing to Delfouneso in the box for a free shot on goal. Joe Riley then hit a free kick from 30 yards out, which just went past the top right-hand corner from a central position on the half-hour mark.
minute.thLeon Clarke’s excellent work-rate proved effective as he won the ball off a Rovers defender who hesitated. Clean through on goal he attempted another side-foot finish, similar to Macclesfield last week, but David Raya got down well and held onto the shot on the 38
Sixty-seconds before the break and Rovers’ Conway flashed a free kick across goal from the left. Unchallenged it flew past Walton’s post with gasps of relief around Gigg Lane.
HALF-TIME: THE SHAKERS 1-0 BLACKBURN ROVERS
The Shakers came out to start the second period as the rain returned, whilst the visitors made a host of changes to try and get back into the game.
On the 50-minute mark Bury nearly doubled their lead as another Hussey in-swinging free kick wasn’t cleared and after it fell to Leon Clarke, his powerful shot looked to go over the line, but the linesman on the nearside thought differently as Raya in the net gathered and carried on.
Rovers kept pressing for the equaliser as a series of fouls were given. However, the Shakers remained firm and composed. On the hour mark Hussey had another chance to take his trademark in-swinging free kick from the same position ten minutes before. He chose to shoot this time and Raya collected at the second attempt at his near post.
minute after a beautiful effort from Craig Conway curled into the bottom right from well outside of the box. This was after Hussey did brilliantly to catch up and stop Delfouneso who was ready to slide home an effort after running into the box.thBlackburn equalised on the 64
Seconds later and the Bury management made their first change of the game, the goal-scorer, Pope coming off for Danny Rose - a straight swap up top.
Chris Sedgwick then came on to make another appearance for the Shakers as he replaced Craig Jones in the centre of midfield on 69-minutes.
minute after he was released on the right wing.rdThe game began to even out in terms of chances and possession as both teams flirted with the idea of taking the lead. Rose’s effort was blocked at the vital second on the 73
minute, falling to Leon Clarke, but the visitors defence and keeper just doing enough to deal with the ever-increasing danger.thThroughout the game the visitors had a nightmare trying to deal with Hussey’s free kicks, another one was taken on the right wing again on the 76
Bowyer then took off Delfouneso a minute later for Anton Forrester to try and liven their attack up. But it was Conway who found space on the edge of the box, his shot just flying past the post ten-minutes before time.
Five-minutes before the end, the announcement came that Chris Hussey was awarded the ‘man of the match’ award, and rightly so, after his superb set piece taking and clever defending. As the Rovers fans began to sing to try and push their team on to get that vital winning goal.
Unfortunately neither team could find that final cutting edge to take the lead.
FULL-TIME: THE SHAKERS 1-1 BLACKBURN ROVERS
The Shakers fans have a lot to be proud and excited about as the new domestic season draws closer. Flitcroft’s side is starting to come together now with plenty of players producing excellent performances and showing high levels of fitness against a very good side in the league above.
Next up for the Shakers is Preston North End, at home again, on Saturday (3pm KO) - which will be another good test in front of the Gigg Lane faithful ahead of the new Sky Bet League One season.
STARTING LINEUP:1. Christian Walton (GK), 2. Joe Riley, 3. Chris Hussey, 5. Peter Clarke, 7. Hallam Hope, 9. Leon Clarke, 11. Tom Pope (OFF 65’), 12. Craig Jones (OFF 69’), 19. Tom Soares, 22. Danny Pugh, 27. Nathan Cameron (C).
BENCH:14. Chris Sedgwick (ON 69’), 20. Scott Burgess, 26. Rob Lainton (GK), 32. Danny Rose (ON 65’).
REFEREE:Mr. D. Handley
ATTENDANCE:1,696 (522 visitors).
Report by Michael Brown