The new year brings FA Cup fever to Pilsworth Park, welcoming Danny Cowley’s Huddersfield Town in the third round of the competition.
(1885 Bury score first):
Huddersfield Town (h) <FA Cup 3rd Round>: 0-2
It didn’t take long for the Premier League visitors to assert themselves – Karlan Grant nodding in at the far post in the third minute from an Ebere Eze free-kick. The former Charlton Athletic striker ought to have doubled his tally later in the first half, but his lob drifted wide, and he continued to find space and squander chances in tandem. A decent opportunity did fall the Shakers’ way after the restart, only for Jack Butland to display plenty of bravery to shut down Dylon Meredith when clean through. This was in sharp contrast to his opposite number Charlie Andrew, whose rush of blood to the head ended any hopes of a replay, giving Grant the simplest of finishes. Far from overawed by the occasion, my young squad acquitted themselves well, having a decent number of shots and parity in possession.
Scottish centre back Cameron Taylor was the subject of transfer interest north of the border. Cheekily, all three clubs wanted him on a free, so they were rebuffed. One of the main aims of Buryball is to sell players on for a profit to then reinvest in the infrastructure and squad; his contract is up in the summer, but there’s no reason to let him go in January if the offers don’t improve.
Chesterfield (a): 1-3
The game in hand caused by the cup exploits meant a difficult looking trip to Derbyshire, and the early battles were won mostly by the Spireites, culminating in a low Joe Rowley volley into the corner. Coming so soon after the Huddersfield game was clearly having an effect on performance levels, and Flynn Clarke doubled the hosts’ advantage with 20 minutes remaining. Leading scorer Kelsey Mooney did halve the deficit from an innovative through ball by Meredith, only for Josh Benson to put through his own net to compound matters.
Dulwich Hamlet (a) <FA Trophy 2nd Round>: 2-1
Ah, Dulwich. I’d love to go to a match there in real life. Anyway, the FA Trophy offered a timely diversion away from the travails of the league, and I freshened up the tactics and personnel in response. The south London outfit were having some joy on the counter, doubtlessly aided by the late switch to a new strategy that’s yet to be fully bedded in during training. Stanley Asomugha had looked a threat for them all match long, and finally capped off his display with a peach of a shot inside the post. The tie looked destined to condemn 1885 Bury to another defeat, but Romário Vieira had other ideas, lashing in a loose ball with five minutes remaining. In the dying seconds, a penalty was awarded. Mooney dispatched with aplomb, and victory had been snatched away cruelly from The Hamlet.
Ebbsfleet United (a): 2-1
A quiet affair burst into life in the 35th minute; Mooney nodded in at the near post from a pinpoint Akeem Hinds cross. John Goddard levelled on the stroke of half time for the Kent side, smashing in from a full 25 yards out. An evenly fought contest appeared to be petering out in the second period until a Dion McGhee free-kick bamboozled Jordan Holmes in the home goal for the breakthrough moment.
Wealdstone (h): 2-1
A welcome return to home comforts served as a testing ground for the third round of the FA Trophy, pitting the struggling Ruislip-based club against my charges. A first half with the lion’s share of possession didn’t really yield much in the way of clear-cut openings, but Mooney showed his growing aerial prowess after the restart to claim the lead. A penalty was then conceded against the run of play, which Joe Parker made no mistake from. A spot kick was quickly awarded at the other end – the pendulum swung back in the Shakers’ favour as a result. Simeon Oure thought he’d provided clear daylight between the teams 60 seconds subsequent to that, but his strike was chalked off. The very same thing happened to Michael Gash with time ticking away, preserving the precious three points.
Notts County (a): 1-1
An onerous journey to promotion favourites Notts County looked a little less so with Mooney’s 17th of the campaign from a route one pass. Veteran Wes Thomas shanked wide for the Magpies, but they got their reward when James Cook dallied on the ball inside his own area.
Still just about inside the play-offs, but the sheer number of close competitors at the end of the month is eye-opening. 15 games to go, and still in a cup. What will happen in February?