O’DRISCOLL DELIGHT AT COOL HEADS
SEAN O’Driscoll was thrilled with his side’s maturity as they weathered a second-half fightback to maintain their impressive away record.
Leading 3-0 at the break thanks to Chris Hussey’s own goal and strikes from Tom Bradshaw and Anthony Forde, Walsall were pegged back by a quickfire Leon Clarke double, but held on for an eighth League One away win of the season.
The victory is O’Driscoll’s fifth in seven games since taking charge of the Saddlers, and he believes his players showed two impressive sides to their game.
“I’m delighted with the way we played with the ball in the first half and without it in the second half,” O’Driscoll said.
“I thought we controlled possession and created opportunities all afternoon, and even at 3-2 we looked like getting a fourth.
“We didn’t panic and it wasn’t as if we were hanging in there.We were nice and composed.
“Credit to Bury, they stuck the ball in dangerous areas where it’s difficult to defend.
“Games can change quickly and that was just the way it went, so we aren’t beating ourselves up about conceding.
“But we didn’t lose concentration, and we are delighted to come through.”
Walsall opened the scoring with 17 minutes gone, as Hussey inexplicably poked Andy Taylor’s menacing low cross into his own net at the far post.
It was a day to forget for the hosts’ full-backs as Forde caught Joe Riley in possession on the half hour, squaring for Bradshaw to calmly slot his tenth goal of the campaign from six yards out.
Bury failed to find the killer ball and Neil Etheridge marshalled his area with conviction, and three minutes before the break the impressive Forde outmuscled Hussey before lashing home a leftfooted drive across goal.
But Bury burst into life five minutes after the hour mark, when Clarke slid in to convert John O’Sullivan’s low ball at the far post.
And Clarke struck again less than a minute later, pouncing on the rebound after Danny Mayor stung the palms of Etheridge.
Walsall looked to steady the ship and squandered chances to seal it, before the woodwork denied Clarke a hat-trick on 83 minutes and condemned Bury to a fourth straight league defeat.
Despite their slump in form, Shakers boss David Flitcroft refused to make excuses for his side’s latest defeat and admits they were below par in defence.
He said:“I won’t allow the team to become victims. These blips happen with every team, but I believe that is an excuse and not a reason. We have got good players out there. “Defensively, their goals were as poor as we have conceded and will concede this season. We are disappointed with the first-half performance.
“The second half was spirited and there are positives to take.We were more forceful and got the ball forward earlier.
“We are in a run of form that none of us are used to – as a club, as fans and certainly as a group of players.
“In tough times you see the people that want to come out fighting.”
HE’S BACK: Fit-again Walsall striker Tom Bradshaw hits the target
DESPAIR: Bury goalkeeper Ian Lawlor
STAR MAN ANTHONY FORDE Walsall