Youngsters slip to late defeat...
BURY produced the ultimate smash and grab performance to snatch a 2-1 victory over The Saddlers’ youth team in their Football League Youth Alliance North-West division clash at Ray Hall Lane on Saturday.
Anthony Dudley had given The Shakers the lead from the penalty spot, but Maziar Kouhyar levelled matters with a neat turn and finish, before George Miller struck the decisive blow in the 87th minute.
The Saddlers came into the match having drawn their previous two matches, while second-placed Bury were looking to close in on League leaders Rochdale, but it was the hosts who took the initiative.
Kouhyar dribbled down the left before playing the ball inside to Levi Rowley, but The Saddlers’ top scorer could only force Shakers’ goalkeeper John Ruddy to parry the ball behind for a corner.
The striker was presented with a more clear cut chance moments later, but he could only head Nathan Owen’s cross wide with Ruddy stranded.
Bury didn’t offer much during the opening exchanges but Scott Burgess should have done better after he was teed up by Brayden Shaw. The midfielder sliced horribly wide from inside the box with the goal at his mercy.
But the visitors were ahead inside 30 minutes; much to the dismay of almost everyone in attendance, Lewis Probert was adjudged to have fouled Miller inside the penalty box. Dudley was left with the simple task of dispatching the resulting spot-kick.
With a sense of injustice planted firmly in their minds, The Saddlers rallied, Rowley glided down the right before hanging a deep cross towards the back post, which found Kouhyar. The winger swivelled leaving several defenders flat-footed before slotting the ball past Ruddy. All square at the break.
The second-half started scrappily as both teams battled for midfield superiority. Rory Oliver’s introduction on the hour mark gave The Saddlers the impetus they had been craving, the winger replaced Tevin Shakespeare, freeing up Rowley to occupy the lone striking role.
The Saddlers had a terrific chance to take the lead when Rowley’s persistence forced Matty Foulas into an error. But with the striker bearing down on goal, he could only produce a very uncharacteristic finish by firing straight at Ruddy.
Oliver’s cross from the right was picked up by Owen at the far post, but his goal bound effort was brilliantly blocked by Shakers’ defender Marcus Poscha.
Oliver was proving too hot to handle for Bury full-back Sam Gibson. Another raid down the right resulted in him crossing for Kouhyar whose header cannoned back off the crossbar with Ruddy helpless.
But with three minutes remaining The Shakers seized their moment. Gibson’s cross fell to Miller who rifled the ball into the near post to give the visitors a flattering lead.
The Saddlers tried to hit back, but the damage had already been done as Bury clung onto the all-important victory.
Neil Woods and his side will travel to Tranmere Rovers on Friday (11am) looking to build on their latest impressive showing.
By ALEX DICKEN