Buryball, Chapter 16: Murder on the Orient Express

“Buryball? Eh?” Confused? Read Chapter 0 for a short precis. You can then find a direct link to each subsequent chapter from there.

The close of 2020 sees some big fixtures – two cup competitions, and the small matter of trying to exact revenge for the cruel loss in the derby with Oldham Athletic…

(1885 Bury score first):

Aldershot Town (a): 0-0

Goalkeeper Charlie Andrew proved his worth on numerous occasions in the first half in a keenly fought contest, saving bravely three times in one-on-one situations. Fatigue was certainly a factor in the second half, and the Shots asserted their territorial dominance without troubling the scoresheet. A point gained?

Kidderminster Harriers (h): 1-1

The pattern of play mirrored the previous match, and again, the custodian was to thank for keeping the Shakers in the tie. Dion McGhee made a shocking miss before immediately making amends in his own box, blocking a goalbound shot superbly with his body. Then, with the seconds ticking away, the visitors got what appeared to be the decisive opener from yet another dead ball situation, Lewis Earl getting on the end of an outswinging free-kick. However, one final attack resulted in a penalty dispatched by top scorer Kelsey Mooney. As you were.

Leyton Orient (a) <FA Cup 2nd Round Replay>: 2-0

James Morris wasted a presentable chance to give 1885 Bury an unlikely lead down at Brisbane Road, firing wide with only the ‘keeper to beat. Josh Lillis then deflected an Ellis Hudson shot into his own net, and McGhee hit a scorcher into the top corner from range! 2-0 up in the first half did bring its own dilemma – should I stick with the gameplan or shut up shop already? I decided to carry on as I was, given there aren’t exactly ‘goals’ in the squad. Morris then could and should’ve put the game beyond the O’s, but again couldn’t find the finish required. By that stage, the hosts had flooded the midfield areas, so I brought on James Cook to sweep up in between the lines. Into the third round we go!

Bradford Park Avenue (a) <FA Trophy 1st Round>: 2-1

The elation of the midweek game meant I wasn’t overly fussed on whether progress was made in the FA Trophy; thankfully, the board were of a similar mindset, so it was a chance for some of the fringe talent in the squad to impress. Hudson rifled in the opener from 30 yards, but Liam Hughes quickly replied from a set piece. The latter was shoved over in the box for a penalty that Andrew saved from Ntumba Massanka. Stand-in captain Cook (there must be a pun there somewhere) headed home from McGhee’s smartly taken free-kick

Oldham Athletic (a): 0-1

Of course, what most supporters would really like most of all is to get one over The Latics, who went into the derby in the sole automatic promotion place in the National League. David Wheater, somehow still on the books at Boundary Park, flashed a header wide in the 10th minute. McGhee had the beating of the veteran for pace on the outside, but could only direct his shot straight at Gary Woods. Another combative and even contest saw substitute Johan Branger-Engone’s strike consigned to history, courtesy of the linesman’s flag… but he put paid to that temporary frustration with a sublime 30-yard piledriver. Another narrow loss, and just barely hanging onto seventh spot…

Barnet (h): 0-0

Ah yes, that traditional, local Boxing Day fixture, made all the worse by a truly¬†shocking kit clash that has to be seen to be believed. The Bees did have the lion’s share of the chances with a pauper’s share of the ball. James Morris thought he’d broken a run of 13 appearances without scoring as the match entered injury time, but it was cruelly disallowed on a personal and collective level. Amazingly, the same fate befell Alfie Pavey for the London outfit a minute later, ensuring the stalemate was preserved.

“Let’s nip down to JD Sports at half-time, eh?!

Solihull Moors (h): 1-1

To round off 2020, I’d dearly like a goal in the fifth tier. That would be great… and so I got it, but it was Solihull Moors in the shape of Dylan Crowe who opened up the game, and were courteous enough to provide one at the right end, too – Leon Malone stabbing into his own net from a McGhee cross. Despite 21 shots, that generous gift was all I had to show for my side’s efforts.

Still there… just…

2021 will bring Danny Cowley and Premier League Huddersfield Town to Pilsworth Park… but will the new year also bring more consistency in front of goal? Check back next week!