Walsall Toppled by Resolute Bury

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Walsall lost 1-0 on the weekend to condemn Dean Smith’s men to a second defeat in a week, their first in the league. The bad week has seen the club knocked out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at League Two side, Morecambe, it also means that the Saddlers slipped to third as both Gillingham and Coventry City rose above them.

Walsall Toppled by Resolute Bury

Walsall started poorly and their passing was slow and sloppy, Bury capitalised on this by getting the only goal of the game inside six minutes when a Walsall throw-in was won by the Bury defence who drove forward unchallenged before hitting a ball wide to Craig Jones who came inside and smashed a low shot to Craig MacGillivray’s far post.

It was what Walsall deserved with a number of players starting slowly. The ever-reliable Andy Taylor was a prime example of that, often being caught out of position by the goalscorer, Craig Jones.

Once Bury got the goal though, there was only one tactic in their mind, to defend and let Walsall keep the ball. They did just that, and a defence that had conceded eleven goals in the first five games was keeping a free-scoring Walsall side out.

Walsall did have chances, but they weren’t clear cut chances, often rushed or forced which was perfect for the strong Bury defence who continued to defend deep all game.

It was clear that the Saddlers were missing wing-back Jason Demetriou who was away on international duty with Cyprus, and it showed in the way that Dean Smith lined up, by having Anthony Forde in that position, it just didn’t work.

At times in the second-half Walsall did begin to look like their old-selves, as Rico Henry tried his hardest to put crosses in, but every low cross was dealt with, usually by the first man, and every high cross was headed away with ease as Bury’s height advantage began to show.

The best chance for last season’s top scorer, Tom Bradshaw, was an awkward volley, but with the Welshman leaning back as he unleashed the effort, the ball sailed harmlessly over the bar, it summed up Walsall’s afternoon.

My star man goes to James O’Connor who stayed strong in the Walsall defence. Bury didn’t have a flood of chances, but when they did he was alert and loud, commanding the back four and young goalkeeper, MacGillivray, who was between the sticks whilst Neil Etheridge was away with the Philippines. On a few occasions too, he was mopping up errors by Andy Taylor, who as previously mentioned, had a poor game by his high, reliable standards.

There’s a perfect opportunity to put things right though with another home match this weekend against Paul Dickov’s Doncaster Rovers. They have just one win and three goals in their opening five matches as Rovers sit in a poor 17th place.

With the Saddlers welcoming back first choice goalkeeper, Neil Etheridge, and wing-back, Jason Demetriou, you feel that this will be a totally different game to the one against Bury.