Shakers snatch a point in six goal thriller with Walsall
Visitors Walsall fought back from two goals down as the Shakers surrendered a half time 2-0 lead, thanks to another goal from James Vaughan and a first career goal from Reece Brown. But three goals in eight second half minutes saw the Saddlers set to claim all three points before Tom Soares struck deep into injury time to give the Shakers a share of the spoils.
It was the Shakers that started the game the brighter of the two sides, earning a corner within 90- seconds of kick off. From the resulting Jacob Mellis delivery, a towering header from Cameron Burgess took a heavy deflection from Hallam Hope before falling kindly to Tom Pope and although his position wasn’t the greatest, standing a foot to the right-hand side of the post, he still managed to get a foot to the ball to divert it at goal, but quick thinking from visiting ‘keeper Neil Etheridge saw the attempt smothered and cleared for a second Bury corner.
A foul, on 14th minutes, by Cameron Burgess on livewire Saddlers forward Erhun Oztumer handed the visitors their first chance on goal. Oztumer dragged himself back to his feet and took the free kick, curling a fizzing ball towards the back post that Rob Lainton, in the Bury goal, stretched to turn away for a corner kick to the visitors.
It was the Shakers though that took the lead when Greg Leigh collected the ball on the half way line, his quick burst, down the left flank, saw him find the space to deliver a looping cross to Tom Pope on the far side of the Walsall box. Pope still had plenty of work to do though and his initial, first time, cross was blocked by a Walsall defender. Pope persevered though and collected the ball on the corner of the box before curling a delightful ball into the six-yard box where, man of the moment, James Vaughan reacted the quicker and diverted the ball beyond Etheridge for his seventh goal in three games, at which point the corner flag took another battering.
GOAL: Bury 1 Walsall 0 (Vaughan 22)
Bury could have had a second goal just two minutes later when a crisp pass from Reece Brown released Hallam Hope down the left. Showing fleet of foot, Hope surged forward and cut into the Walsall box before firing a rasping shot, from a very acute angle, but Walsall ‘keeper Neil Etheridge was more than equal to the chance and stopped the shot dead before his defence cleared.
Six minutes later and another chance came to the Shakers. Reece Brown delayed his touch as a Walsall player slid through his legs, looking to get a touch on the ball, however, Brown cleverly stopped the ball and watched as the Walsall player slid beyond him, Brown immediately surged forward with the ball before finding Pope with a curling cross into the box. Pope’s header was on target but, again, Etheridge was equal to the effort. With the ball still loose, it was Pope again that reached it first but, again, Etheridge reacted superbly to beat the shot away, denying Pope for a second time inside 10 seconds.
A 38th minute yellow card for Cameron Burgess following a foul on Bakayoko, presented the Saddlers with another chance to get the ball into the box. Oztumer’s delivery was headed back into the six-yard box by Preston but the Shakers broke quickly, on the counter-attack, but Jacob Mellis, as he did in the last home game, was unable to release the ball forward to a white shirted teammate and the visitors eventually cleared.
Rob Lainton was forced into action moments later when a shot from Amadou Bakayoko from the corner of the box, had the Shakers ‘keeper diving to his left to palm the ball away. The loose ball fell to Cuvelier and his cross into the box brought a smart holding save from Lainton.
Lainton’s resulting clearance fell to Tom Pope but, as he controlled the ball, he received a push in the back and the referee, Carl Boyeson, blew for the free kick and Reece Brown positioned the ball to take the free kick for the Shakers. When the delivery came it was, perhaps, slightly over hit as the ball flew high over the massed ranks of white shirts, in and around the six-yard box, but, thankfully for the Shakers, it hit the Walsall post and bounced into the back of the net for a second Shakers goal, and a first ever League career goal for Reece Brown.
GOAL: Bury 2 Walsall 0 (Brown 45)
Half time: Bury 2 Walsall 0
The first half chance, of the second period, again, fell to Bury with Leigh forcing the ball wide to Mellis, his quick release into the feet of Hallam Hope saw the former Evertonian turn and fire a quick shot at goal, though his effort flew high over the bar and away for a goal kick.
With an hour of the game gone, Walsall were beginning to claim more of the ball and should have scored from close range when a 61st minute corner fell inside the six-yard box and Matt Preston reacted quicker than others. His quick turn and shot looked goal bound, but the right leg of James Vaughan stopped the shot hitting the target as he stood on the goal line and, with the ball still loose, Osbourne put his laces through the ball but this time Lainton was down quick to palm the ball away from goal.
Neil Etheridge was called into action, again, on 65 minutes. A long pass from Vaughan, from the half-way line, fell superbly for Hope and his first time shot, from outside the box, looked to be heading across the Saddlers ‘keeper and into the bottom corner, but Etheridge dived smartly to tip the shot away for a Bury corner.
Walsall got back into the game on 71 minutes when Osbourne was fouled on the edge of the Bury box, with Reece Brown being shown a yellow card for the foul. Erhun Oztumer positioned the ball for a shot on goal and his shot, across the Shakers wall, flew true and buried itself into the bottom corner of Lainton’s goal.
GOAL: Bury 2 Walsall 1 (Oztumer 71)
It took the Saddlers a further four minutes to make it all square. A cross-field ball found right back Jason McCarthy on the edge of the Bury box. His first touch saw Hallam Hope lose his footing, with the second shot arcing towards the Bury goal where the shot bounced off the inside of the post and beyond a despairing Rob Lainton for the equaliser.
GOAL: Bury 2 Walsall 2 (McCarthy 75)
Three minutes later and the Saddlers had the lead and it was McCarthy again that claimed the goal. A cross from the left hand side, from Osbourne, fell to an unmarked McCarthy who had, moments before, been involved in the build-up to the move. McCarthy simply flexed his neck and diverted the ball beyond Lainton for his second, and Walsall’s third, goal of the game.
GOAL: Bury 2 Walsall 3 (McCarthy 79)
With time running out, Ryan Lowe made his third debut for the Shakers, replacing Hallam Hope, whilst Jermaine Pennant replaced Jacob Mellis in midfield.
As the game drifted into injury time, Reece Brown floated a curling ball into the Walsall box where Tom Soares reacted the quicker and got a touch on the cross to divert the ball beyond Etheridge to claim a share of the spoils for the Shakers with virtually the last kick of the game.
GOAL and Final Score: Bury 3 Walsall 3 (Soares 90+3)
Bury: Lainton, Moore, Leigh, Kay, Burgess, Soares, Brown, Mellis (Pennant 82), Vaughan, Hope (Lowe 82), Pope (Miller 75)
Subs not used: Williams, Burgess, Etuhu, Barnett
Walsall: Etheridge, Preston, O'Connell, O'Connor, Cuvelier (Jackson 72), Osbourne, McCarthy, Edwards, Chambers, Bakayoko (Makris 89), Oztumer (Dobson 87)
Subs not used: Morris, Roberts, MacGillivray, Laird
Gate: 3,280 (448)