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Match Reports

Bury 1-0 Walsall

5 August 2017

Walsall fell to a disappointing opening-day defeat at big-spending Bury despite goalkeeper Mark Gillespie making two fantastic penalty saves on his debut.

The Shakers could have gone ahead inside three minutes but Jermaine Beckford’s low penalty was superbly kept out by the former Carlisle stopper.

Beckford made amends in first half injury time, heading home Chris Maguire’s deflected free-kick from close range.

Maguire himself saw a spot-kick tipped onto the post by Gillespie nine minutes from time, but the Saddlers were unable to capitalise.

A deflected Simeon Jackson strike clipped the outside of the post in the first half and Maz Kouhyar tested Joe Murphy late on, but the visitors struggled to create too many chances.

In a dramatic start, the Saddlers almost fell behind after just three minutes when Florent Cuvelier tripped Shakers captain Stephen Dawson inside the box.

Jermaine Beckford, one of eight home debutants, stepped up to take the resulting penalty but his right-footed effort was brilliantly pushed away by Gillespie.

After surviving that scare, the visitors nearly went ahead on 17 minutes as Simeon Jackson’s low strike deflected off Dawson and shaved the outside of the far post.

Despite looking disjoined for much of the opening period, it was Lee Clarke’s hosts who took the lead in first-half injury time.

A Chris Maguire free-kick from the right was inadvertently flicked on by Joe Edwards and gleefully headed home by the unmarked Beckford from close range.

Having created the opener, Maguire went close himself several times in the second half.

He first tried to catch out Gillespie with an ambitious free-kick which the keeper held, before unleashing a thunderous long-range strike which was beated away.

The ex-Oxford man went closer still on 69 minutes when he curled a wonderful 25-yard free-kick a whisker wide of Gillespie’s right-hand upright.

With the Saddlers offering little going forward, boss Jon Whitney brought on Amadou Bakayoko and Maz Kouhyar in an attempt to give his side more attacking impetus.

Yet the hosts should really have put the game to bed nine minutes from time when Jon Guthrie felled substitute Zeli Ismail in the box.

Maguire was handed the responsibility of taking the Shakers’ second spot-kick but again it was missed, Gillespie diving full length to his right to turn the ball onto the post.

Walsall finally fashioned a meaningful chance with six minutes remaining, Oztumer lifting a clever pass over to Kouhyar but his half-volley was pushed wide by Murphy.

Ismail could have made sure of the win when he cut inside Joe Edwards before firing straight at Gillespie, but Beckford’s first-half header proved enough for the three points.

 

Team: Gillespie, Kinsella, Guthrie, Wilson, Leahy, Chambers, Cuvelier (Kouhyar 74’), Edwards, Morris (Candlin 84’), Oztumer, Jackson (Bakayoko 74’).

Subs not used: L Roberts, K Roberts, Cockerill-Mollett, Flanagan.

Attendance: 4,240 (681).


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