Town 0 Bury 1
Town: Jayson Leutwiler, Liam Lawrence (c), Jordan Clark, Jermaine Grandison, James Collins (Andy Mangan, 76), Keith Southern (Tyrone Barnett, 60), Bobby Grant, Mark Ellis, Mickey Demetriou, Cameron Gayle (Mikael Mandron, 83), Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro
Subs not used: Mark Halstead, Dom Smith, Scott Vernon, Rhys Sharpe
Bury: Nick Pope, Craig Jones, Andrew Tutte (Chris Sedgwick, 75), Adam El-Abd, Kelvin Utuhu, Danny Mayor, Chris Hussey, Danny Nardiello (Tom Eaves, 59), Tom Soares, Joe Riley, Nathan Cameron (c)
Subs not used: Hallam Hope, Danny Rose, Ryan Lowe, Keil O’Brien, Rob Lainton (GK)
Referee: D. Whitestone
Assistants: T. Bramall & A. Pashley
Fourth Official: T. Nield
Attendance: 4,277 (1,151 from Shrewsbury)
Martin Wild reports from the JD Stadium, Gigg Lane
A fantastic second half strike by Bury’s Joe Riley brought an end to Town’s six match winning sequence. The promotion party was put on hold, but the goal was worthy of winning the World Cup let alone a SKY Bet League Two match. Town went toe-to-toe with David Flitcroft’s side but in an enthralling encounter, they just came up just short despite their best efforts.
Town stuck with the same starting XI as the one that comprehensively saw off in-form Exeter City at the weekend. Dom Smith was named on the bench with Josh Ginnelly dropping out in the only change to the eighteen named on Saturday.
On a pleasant Spring evening in Lancashire, Salop – wearing change colours of yellow and black – started the match defending the end where their sizeable away following were gathered. And those supporters who had made the midweek trek from Shropshire were in fine voice from the outset. The pitch had been heavily watered beforehand and was looking decidedly threadbare in several areas.
Both sides traded a couple of early corners and you could sense that Bury were right up for the battle that lay ahead. Jayson Leutwiler did really well to come and claim a high ball from Chris Hussey’s whipped in and pacey free-kick, but other than that, neither keeper were worked too hard in the opening quarter hour. Danny Mayor did show some neat touches in the box but he was closed down by Shrews defenders before he could create anything.
It was a really feisty affair with neither a quarter asked, nor given. There were plenty of tasty tackles and much to admire from both sides. But there was a brief scare for the hosts when Nick Pope spilled Liam Lawrence’s free-kick after 20 minutes, and Mark Ellis and James Collins both had shots that were scrambled away from goal by a frantic Shakers backline.
Bury responded and on-loan Bolton defender Riley did really well down the right hand side before sending over a cross that ought to have resulted in something more profitable for the team in white. This really was a smashing game between two good sides - and on a playing surface that didn’t really lend itself to cosmopolitan football. Still, for art and guile, substitute blood and thunder. There was a lot at stake and the players were highly motivated and equally competitive.
Once again, as the clock reached 35 minutes, Town’s supporters applauded to a man as they belted out Nick Mann’s name, following his tragic accident a couple of weeks ago.
Shrewsbury were being made to work extremely hard with Bury seeing plenty of the ball, but their defending was superb as they offered top class protection to their goalkeeper.
The referee’s whistle signalled the end of a high octane, pulsating tempo of a first half, with the teams still deadlocked at nil-apiece.
Half-Time: Bury 0 Town 0
At the resumption Bobby Grant saw an effort turned behind by Pope with the 1100 Town fans behind that goal doing all they could to act as a twelfth man. With Southend scoring in first half stoppage time, the party banners might not be given an airing this evening, but the only focus for Micky Mellon and his team has always been about their own work; not anyone else’s.
Town fell behind after 56 minutes when Riley scored a goal that he won’t better if he plays ‘til he’s 90. There appeared little danger when the ball fell to the number 23 but he put his laces through the ball and almost ripped a hole in the netting with a venomous strike from every inch of 35 yards. It flew past Leutwiler right into the top corner, to lift the roof of the JD.
Shrewsbury rallied and almost found an instant opener when Mark Ellis headed back Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro’s deep cross but with Pope AWOL, the ball ran agonisingly across goal with no-one around to get themselves a tap-in.
In Mellon’s first change, Tyrone Barnett took the place of Keith Southern on the hour, with the midfielder having picked up an innocuous injury minutes before the goal. Immediately, Town looked a bit more punchy up front as the supporters stayed with their side offering unequivocal backing away to our right.
Andy Mangan was next to spring from the sidelines with the well-shackled figure of Collins the man to be replaced. Fourteen minutes of normal time and stoppages was all the likeable Liverpudlian had left to make his mark on the contest. But it was Bury who might have added to their narrow lead when Kelvin Utuhu flashed a shot from outside the box wide of Leutwiler’s right hand upright.
On 82 minutes it briefly looked like Town had levelled the match. Akpa Akpro burst into the box and looked to have just slightly overran it before pulling the ball back for Mangan, who swept the ball home to spark joyous scenes in the away end. Sadly, the linesman on the near side raised his flag to signal a goal-kick and the reality soon hit home for those going doolally down the front.
Mikael Mandron was sent on as Micky went gung-ho and finger nails were being chewed all over the shop. Shrews were looking their most dangerous and when Grant smashed the ball back across the deadball line, Bury had another huge escape as an outstretched leg diverted away the danger. Lawrence was narrowly wide just before five minutes of added on time was indicated by the fourth official. For the first time in the match, the pressure was relentless from the away side, but Bury – defending deep – dug in to keep the Town out.
Full-Time: Bury 1 Town 0