Ajose in from the cold in fine style
HE was frozen out by previous Bury manager Lee Clark, but Nicky Ajose fired a brace to edge the Shakers closer to Wembley and justify new manager Chris Lucketti’s faith.
Charlton loanee Ajose has barely figured this season for the struggling Shakers but his double – a 20-yard rocket and a poacher’s header – sent Bury into the Checkatrade Trophy third round.
His strikes ensured a first win for Lucketti, who said: “The two goals Nicky got were different class. You will do well to see a better goal than his first one this weekend.
“Strikers thrive on goals and he could have had four if not for a great save and an offside flag.
“It’s great to get that win, that feelgood factor, that confidence that results give you.
“But the one thing I was really pleased with was how hard the boys worked for each other. The attitude I’ve seen in my first week in charge has been superb.”
Bury led after seven minutes as Ajose rifled a first-time screamer past Walsall keeper Liam Roberts from 20 yards.
It was almost 2-0 on 27 minutes but Roberts instinctively stuck out a leg to superbly thwart Ajose who had the freedom of the Walsall box ten yards out.
Bury keeper Leo Fasan produced a smart save with his legs to foil Kieron Morris’s neat turn and shot from an acute angle.
But Fasan was beaten in first-half stoppage time as Tyler Roberts’ clever reverse pass found Erhun Oztumer in space and he rolled past the keeper from ten yards.
Bury regained the lead on 65 minutes from a swift counter-attack as Andrew Tutte stood up a far-post cross for the unmarked Ajose to head home from close range.
Ajose was denied a hat-trick by the offside flag after Roberts tipped a Michael Smith strike onto the post but Walsall never threatened an equaliser and are now out of all three cup competitions.
Boss Jon Whitney said: “One-all was a fair scoreline at half-time. But then we got hit with a sucker punch for their second goal. We will have to look at the decision-making, but that is what happens with a young team.
“Performance-wise we were okay and in the last five games, we’ve had good performances. We need to make sure we keep that level but turn more of those losses into wins.”
GOOD BATTLE: Fylde’s Jonny Smith tussles with Wigan’s Nathan Byrne as, inset, Will Grigg scores for Wigan and Fylde celebrate their equaliser STAR MAN SAM FINLEY Fylde
STAR MAN NICKY AJOSE Bury