It’s been a little while, hasn’t it? Let’s refresh our collective memories – the phoenix club, having scraped promotion from the sixth tier via an extended play-off programme, are now firmly ensconced in the upper echelons of the National League after a dozen fixtures… despite not being full time professionals or massively strengthening the squad. Can the performance levels be maintained? Let’s find out…
(1885 Bury score first):
FC Halifax Town (h): 0-1
A rip-roaring start to this once perennial Lancashire-Yorkshire clash. If there’s one player who’s appeared in Shakers colours in recent years who will punish a lapse of concentration in defence, it’s George Miller… and he just so happens to be on loan at The Shay from Barnsley… and he just so happened to do precisely that with merely 29 seconds on the clock. The miasma cloud took a long time to lift, with Mark Halsey’s nephew continuing to run the show but not add to his tally. Under-performance continued well into the second period, and substitute Fergus McAughtrie should’ve slotted home at the far post to undeservedly level the tie up.
Kidderminster Harriers (a): 3-1
An opportunity to make amends quickly came on the road. Midfielder Josh Benson, who’d been banging on my door for a while to start, took his chance expertly, rifling into the corner from range with just eight minutes elapsed. Right winger Simeon Oure’s effort then squeezed in courtesy of the underside of the crossbar. Reuben Collins was then the unfortunate static object the ball ricocheted off from a dead ball for an own goal (and third) on the stroke of half-time. McAughtrie messed up an easy chance for a second match in succession, allowing Luke Rooney to volley in for a consolation at the other end.
Oldham Athletic (h): 2-3
Now this is the sort of derby you rarely get below the EFL. A capacity crowd were present to witness the first ever battle between the near neighbours outside of the top four tiers; the Latics had been miserly in defence, only conceding six in 14 games. The visitors to Pilsworth Park started the brighter, pinning their more western adversaries back into their own third for the opening quarter of the fixture. Robbie McKenzie headed in from a Marvin Kokos corner to underline that dominance, and quickly added a second from the penalty spot. An uncharacteristic rocket from assistant manager Anthony Johnson was required during the break, and it seemed to be having very little positive effect… but Zak Mills inexplicably turned in a cross from Oure under no pressure whatsoever to halve the deficit. Denilson Carvalho blasted in the equaliser from 20 yards, profiting from some superb vision from McAughtrie. Mills thought he’d scored a second own goal, but a combination of the offside flag and McKenzie’s hat-trick spared his already numerable blushes.
Tamworth <FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round> (h): 1-1
A favourable home draw against lower division opposition, coupled with no expectations from the board to progress, were the platform on which a more relaxed, controlled performance took shape. Sole striker Kelsey Mooney shook off his recent travails in front of goal by nodding in a Carvalho cross. Omar Damba did sweep in from a rare Tamworth counter, and so it stayed, in spite of Mooney’s best efforts, rattling the woodwork on three occasions.
Tamworth <FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round – Replay> (a): 2-0
A trip to Woking in the first round proper awaited the victors of the hastily scheduled replay; Dylon Meredith picked up from where Mooney left off, smashing the post yet again. Thankfully, Oure broke the deadlock, picking his spot at the far post from a Ross Woodcock centre. Mooney pounced on a defensive error to increase 1885 Bury’s lead, but missed his chance for a brace, seeing his spot kick turned around the post by Jasbir Singh
Bromley (a): 3-2
Centre back Ben Forrest powered in a header from a corner for his first goal for the club with barely a minute played, but Taylor Gardner-Hickman emulated his adversary from a free-kick. The latter completed a quick attack to give the home side the lead, and the Shakers were reduced to 10 men to compound matters – James Yates dismissed for pulling Alex Newby back. However, substitute George Baker had other ideas, fooling the ‘keeper by aiming for the far corner from an acute angle. Amazingly, Rhys Hilton then ran through from a route one pass to cap off a remarkable turnaround.
Wrexham (a): 0-3
A whole suite of changes were required due to suspension and fatigue for the trip to North Wales. The hosts saw an early penalty saved by Charlie Andrew, who stayed in the middle of the goal to stop smartly, but subsequently let himself down, allowing a JJ Hooper pea-roller to tricke in underneath his outstretched arm. Chris Bush grabbed a second and Gustav Mogensen a third, and they were just rewards for the Dragons’ total dominance.
Woking (h): 0-0
In a dress rehearsal of sorts for the upcoming FA Cup encounter, another penalty was cheaply given away, but once more, Andrew was equal to the task. Otherwise, it was closely fought, but not greatly entertaining.
Another decidedly mixed month, but still in the top seven after eight gruelling fixtures (six of which were in the National League itself). How will November, with only five scheduled matches, treat the Shakers? Find out next week…