Kearns injury blow as Town salvage a point

UP AND RUNNING: John Sands punches the air in delight after scoring Bury Town's first goal of the new season
UP AND RUNNING: John Sands punches the air in delight after scoring Bury Town's first goal of the new season
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Bury Town 1 Carshalton Athletic 1

by Derek Bish

at Ram Meadow

RICHARD Wilkins admitted the loss of Callum Kearns to injury affected his players during Bury Town’s opening-day draw with Carshalton Athletic.

The Blues’ boss saw his side pegged back through a momentary lapse in concentration before the former Southend United trainee was stretchered off in the 56th minute, but the home side had been well on top until then.

Bury wasted a whole host of chances before John Sands put the Suffolk side ahead, but the defence went to sleep and allowed Paul Vines to easily head in Jack Clark’s cross.

Wilkins, whose side needed a second-half penalty save from Marcus Garnham to earn a point, said: “I thought we should have been two or three goals up at half-time, but unfortunately the final ball or the run wasn’t quite right and we missed a couple of really good chances.

“The goal they scored was bad — Connor Hall had a great game, but he didn’t go with his runner, who then headed in from three yards.

“Then Callum got injured and I think it took the heart out of us.”

Sam Reed was just off target when trying his luck from outside the penalty area in the seventh minute before Sands failed to collect Tom Bullard’s long ball over the top when he would have had a clear run on goal.

Right wing-back Russell Short — with more licence to roam forward in the Blues’ 3-5-2 system — tested Nick Hamann with a low shot that the visiting goalkeeper stretched to save one-handed.

The home side continued to be on top, but John Kennedy, Sands and Sam Reed — the latter on three occasions – all failed to finish off flowing Bury moves and Sam Reed also forced Hamann into a smart save after running through one-on-one.

Sam Nunn and Sam Reed also got in each other’s way from Mark Coulson’s right-wing cross, while at the other end, Athletic had their moments.

Ola Sogbanmu slid a shot wide, Tom Bird stung Garnham’s hands from range before Bury’s custodian injured himself in the process of superbly clawing away Harry Harding’s near-post flick from Clark’s right-wing corner.

Bury found their shooting boots two minutes after half-time when Sands collected Sam Reed’s pass over the top and took advantage of a hesitant Hamann to slide the ball into the net with his left foot, the pacey forward following it up with his best impression of Usain Bolt’s celebration.

The visiting stopper recovered four minutes later to deny the former Mildenhall Town striker in a one-on-one situation, which sparked the move for Carshalton’s equaliser.

Athletic moved the ball to the other end, where it was all too simple for Clark to cross from the left and Vines to head home.

Bury still looked as if they could go on and win the game, but when Kearns landed awkwardly and went down clutching his knee in a lot of pain, the home side were visibly rattled.

After the midfielder was stretchered off, Garnham palmed away Joshua Griffiths’ shot, but Sam Nunn had the perfect opportunity to put the home team back in front when somehow heading wide from inside the six-yard box.

After that, it was all Carshalton.

Garnham showed his agility to palm over Vines’ acrobatic volley and then used his feet to keep out the same player’s penalty after referee Paul Burnham controversially adjudged Coulson to have fouled Harry Harding in the box.

The woodwork twice came to the Blues’ rescue in the closing minutes — from Vines’ header after substitute Lee Reed had inadvertently diverted the ball towards his own goal and then from Clark in stoppage time.