JERMAINE Beckford had a Bury debut to remember after bouncing back from a penalty miss to strike the winning goal at home to Walsall.

The former Preston hitman was denied from the spot just two minutes into the game by a fine Mark Gillespie save.

But the 33-year-old responded expertly by heading home Chris Maguire’s fantastic free-kick in first half injury time.

Maguire was also denied a debut goal as Gillespie again saved from the spot, this time pushing his effort onto the post.

Walsall did have a late rally to try and snatch a result but Bury’s newly formed defence held out for a clean sheet.

After a busy summer which saw 27 players depart and 18 arrive, Lee Clark handed eight of his new signings debuts from the off as only Joe Murphy, Craig Jones and Greg Leigh retained their starting spot from last year.

Inside two minutes Beckford was handed the chance to open his Bury account from the penalty spot after Luke Leahy sent Shakers skipper Stephen Dawson tumbling in the box.

But visiting keeper Gillespie flew down to his left to push the forward’s effort around the post.

Walsall came a lick of paint away from taking the lead themselves moments later as Simeon Jackson’s off-target effort deflected off Dawson and clipped the base of the post.

Kieron Morris then tested Bury stopper Joe Murphy with a drive from the edge of the box.

The Saddlers enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the first period without really creating any clear cut chances.

And then in first half added time Chris Maguire’s in swinging free-kick was headed home by Beckford to give the Shakers a half-time lead.

Bury were dealt a blow after the break when Jay O’Shea was forced off injured, so Zeli Ismail made his return after nine months out with a groin injury.

The hosts began to crank up the pressure as they attempted to build on the lead but Gillespie proved a difficult customer between the sticks, keeping out Maguire’s 20-yard free-kick.

The battle between striker and goalkeeper intensified but the former-Carlisle shot stopper again came out on top when palming away Maguire’s stinging effort.

Clark tried to inject some creativity into his midfield when he brought 17-year-old academy graduate Tsun Dai on for his first team debut.

And the Hong Kong-born midfielder was fearless in driving Bury through the gears.

Maguire’s frustrating afternoon continued when he curled a 30-yard free-kick agonisingly wide of the post.

The Saddlers introduced Amadou Bakayoko and Maz Kouhyar from the bench in a bid to salvage something from the game.

But it was Bury who remained on the front foot and they were awarded another penalty when Guthrie fouled Ismail in the box.

Maguire this time took the ball from Beckford but he was denied by another fine save by Gillespie.

Walsall rallied in the dying minutes but substitute Kouhyar spurned the best chance straight at Murphy from an acute angle.