- Now that was the kind of performance and result I and many other Bury fans have been waiting for. Few openly dispute the level and variety of talent in the squad but whether through mismanagement, injury or other less obvious factors, it hasn’t really happened yet with the possible exception of a portion of the encounter against Oxford United last month. It could have been markedly different if the Shakers hadn’t recovered from an early setback, engineered primarily from a foul throw by Nicky Law. However, that doesn’t excuse two white shirts going for the same man from the deflected cross. The flick-on by Dominic Poleon allowed Bradford City hitman Charlie Wyke the simplest of finishes and his poor connection might’ve actually served him better under the circumstances, leaving Leo Fasan no chance of saving it. Rarely in the past few seasons regardless of who’s in the dugout have the Lancashire outfit rallied to recover from a losing position against undeniably quality opposition. I actually think foul throws are a big unaddressed issue with how the game is played… but that’s a topic for another time.
- It’s also difficult to dispute how much of an influence the soft penalty awarded for a foul on Jermaine Beckford had in helping them do just that. Again, the passage of play came about from another ricochet, this time off the face of Callum Reilly, who was quietly impressive for the vast majority of proceedings. The botched clearance fell kindly to the striker and under minimal contact from right-back Luke Hendrie, he went down in the area and a few long seconds later, the referee pointed to the spot. Chris Maguire dispatched it with aplomb in front of the throng of Bantams followers, despite their best efforts to put him off behind the goal. He has a well-earned reputation for goading supporters of the opposition and certainly milked it…
- Unbelievably, Bury were in front less than a minute later. An excellent early cross from wing-back Chris Humphrey found its mark; target man Michael Smith, who is game by game enhancing his reputation (at least for his teamplay if not exactly prolific himself currently) as an integral component of Lee Clark’s side, won the header and it hit the bar; custodian Colin Doyle and centre back Matthew Kilgallon could only bear witness to Beckford’s striking instinct as he hit the rebound from point-blank range against their helpless bodies and in. Once more, the claret and amber army were wound up to high heaven by zealous celebrations and it won’t have escaped their attention that he used to be a prominent figure at local rivals Leeds United.
- It was pleasing to see the (re)introduction of Jay O’Shea into the fold after a 10-week lay-off. Perhaps a little more direct in his work than Maguire, he kept the Shakers on the front foot in an open contest and rounded off the victory in the final minutes. The industrious Greg Leigh, perhaps with a point to prove to his former employers, made it for him, winning possession high up the pitch from Hendrie. The right-back was then drawn to the ball rather than watching his direct opponent’s marauding, unchecked run. O’Shea laid it back out to Leigh, whose shot was saved by Doyle but once more, the loose ball was bundled home for the forward’s first goal since joining in the close season. His presence versatility will be key in providing different options to Clark and keep the scouting teams sent to Bury games guessing as to who will be in the first XI (but in a positive sense!).
- Harry Bunn, on for Humphrey after the Jamaican sustained a knock, was utterly wasted and poorly utilised in a wing-back role. I expected a shuffling of the pack and a reversion to a flat-back four, especially given Jordan Williams’ absence from the substitutes’ bench. He is still more than capable of being a large contributor to the campaign but in the current shape, it seems as though the opportunities for him to impress are going to be severely limited.
- Eoghan O’Connell came through the game unscathed and turned in a good display, largely dealing with Wyke, Poleon and the numerous other threats Stuart McCall possesses in his ranks. The two-time gaffer at Valley Parade can take heart from much of the visitors’ work. Profligacy in front of goal and a failure to target Fasan’s reluctance to stray too far from his line put paid to their chances of a share of the spoils but the margins were fine and I’m sure it won’t serve to knock their confidence too much.