The Shakers charge up the EFL Sky Bet League One table continued at Swindon Town’s County Ground thanks to a brace of goals from Hallam Hope. Swindon got themselves a consolation goal with 20 minutes of the game remaining, but a resolute defensive display in the closing stages, saw David Flitcroft’s side claim a fourth straight win and extended their unbeaten run to five games.
Bury were forced into two changes with James Vaughan suspended following his two Yellow cards last weekend whilst central defender Leon Barnett missed out with a suspected calf and/or achilles problem that will keep him out of action for a month whilst also missing from the bench was Manchester City loanee Kean Bryan.
Zeli Ismail got the game underway for the Shakers though it would be referee Charles Breakspear who would later infuriate the home supporters with a controversial decision that could have affected the outcome of the game.
It took the Shakers some five minutes to bare their teeth in anger when a clever, cross-field, ball from Ismail fell to Danny Mayor on the opposite flank and, with space available to him, he expertly cut inside the first Swindon defender before playing a crisp pass to Tom Pope on the edge of the Swindon box, Pope returned the ball to Mayor with an equally sharp stab but Mayor, with the goal in front of him, could only fire the ball straight down the throat of home ‘keeper Will Henry, who held the effort well.
The home side attempted to attack the Shakers goal some three minutes later with some clever close control from Yaser Kasim, but his long range drive flew harmlessly into the empty stand behind Ben Williams’ goal.
The Shakers took the lead, on twelve minutes, when a flying run down the wing from Zeli Ismail brought a stunning, curling, cross to the back post from the bye-line, Tom Pope rose to head the ball at goal but Robins ‘keeper Henry managed to scramble across his area to palm the ball away from danger. His touch, however, on the ball, though fell nicely for Hallam Hope, who quickly fired the ball across the flailing ‘keeper and into the opposite, bottom, corner of the goal.
Goal: Swindon Town 0 Bury 1 (Hope 12)
Within six minutes of the Shakers taking the lead, two crunching tackles from Jacob Mellis brought the first of ten Yellow cards for the afternoon. His second challenge incurring the wrath of referee Charles Breakspear, just seconds after being warned for the first challenge.
The resulting free kick brought the next chance for the home side, with Kasim smashing an excellent dead ball at goal, thankfully for the Shakers though, Ben Williams reacted quickly enough to palm the ball around the post and out for a Swindon corner.
On 21 minutes, the home side hit back or, at least, they thought they had. A long range shot from Kasim looked to have beaten the Shakers back line, as the ball zipped through the box, former Shakers loanee Nathan Delfouneso took a touch to divert the ball beyond Williams and into the goal for the equaliser. Referee Breakspear signalled for a goal, amidst protests from Antony Kay and Greg Leigh and, as all the players returned to the half way line to restart the game, the referee’s assistant on the far side was furiously waving his flag and eventually attracted the referee’s attention. Following a quick discussion between the officials and, at least a minute after awarding the goal, referee Breakspear promptly ruled out the goal and signalled for a Bury free kick! The resulting boo’s from three sides of the ground almost drowned out the cheering from the 244 travelling Shakers in the corner of the main stand.
The home side then took charge of the ball and began to pass the ball around their own back four and midfield but could not penetrate a resolute Bury back line, despite numerous attempts, the Shakers were giving their all to prevent the home side getting back into the game.
Swindon, unfortunately, lost a player to injury on the half hour as Jamie Sendles-White left the field on a stretcher following a challenge with Zeli Ismail. With no cards shown or free kick awarded, the referee restarted the game with a drop ball, which further infuriated both the home support and management staff.
Moments later, Ismail was the victim of a slight challenge on the half way line and referee Breakspear was quickly on the scene brandishing a yellow card, which quickly took him off around 6,000 Christmas card lists as the local’s again showed their discontent with his handling of the game.
The next chance came to the home side when Raphael Rossi Branco collected the ball on the half way line and charged at the Bury goal but, again, the Bury back four forced him to shoot from a long way out and his effort rose high above the cross bar.
With half time looming, Hallam Hope suddenly latched onto a very loose pass from one defender to another. The ball never stood as chance of finding its intended target and Hope sped away with the ball at his feet and bore down on the Swindon goal. As he took the ball into the box, he drove a fine, angled, shot across the despairing ‘keeper to find the same bottom corner of the Swindon goal.
GOAL: Swindon Town 0 Bury 2 (Hope 45).
With six Yellow cards shown, in the first forty-five minutes, the talk in the press box as we approached half time was not of the outcome of the game, but which side would be reduced to ten men first. Referee Breakspear blew for the half time break after six minutes of injury time, to the inevitable chorus of boos and jeers from the home supporters.
Half time: Swindon Town 0 Bury 2
Swindon started the second period as a side desperate to get back into the game and, within two minutes of starting, Jonathan Obika burst forward with the ball, his shot though found Antony Kay on hand to stab the ball away for a corner to the home side. The resulting corner found the head of Delfouneso but he could only flash the ball wide of the target.
A rare Bury corner on 50 minutes saw Ismail play the short ball to Danny Mayor, his curling cross into the box was initially headed away by a Swindon defender, but only as far as Craig Jones who managed to connect with a crisp volley, but, sadly, he could not keep the ball down and it flew harmlessly out of play for a goal kick.
Two minutes later and the home chance created another chance, they fed the ball to Obika on the edge of the box, but just as he was about to pull the trigger, Shakers defender Greg Leigh appeared from nowhere and managed to poke the ball away from Obika’s swinging foot.
Swindon’s pressure eventually claimed a goal as a fast cross into the Bury box found Obika on the edge of the six-yard area and he managed to get a good flick onto the ball to divert it into the same bottom corner that Hallam Hope had twice found earlier.
Goal: Swindon Town 1 Bury 2 (Jonathan Obika 64)
Within minutes of conceding the goal the Shakers made their first change of the afternoon, with two goal hero Hallam Hope replaced by Tom Walker. Hope left the field to a well-deserved standing ovation from the Shakers travelling support.
Ben Williams was called upon, again, on 73 minutes when a clever turn, on the ball, from Obika inside the Bury box, saw the Robins striker shoot at goal but Williams was equal to the effort and managed to smother the shot as it came through a sea of legs.
With 15 minutes of the game remaining, Andrew Tutte made his first appearance of the season replacing Jacob Mellis following an earlier injury.
With the home side suddenly finding plenty of space on the ball, the Shakers back four – assisted by the midfield duo of Soares and Tutte, were called upon on numerous occasions. One such chance came with ten minutes of play remaining saw Town substitute Norris breaking though the back four only for Antony Kay to make a superb challenge as he raced past him.
The Shakers were still trying to get themselves a third goal to kill off the game and an Andrew Tutte shot, from the edge of the box, on 81 minutes brought a fine stop from Will Henry and moments later a Bury free kick was lofted into the box, only for Tom Pope to make the challenge on a Swindon defender. It was a challenge that referee Breakspear thought illegal and out came yet another Yellow card.
With two minutes of the game remaining, the Shakers burst from their own half with another excellent run from Ismail, he took the ball into the corner and produced another telling ball into the middle, though this time just too high for Tom Pope and the home side smashed the ball back up the field.
Finally, after five minutes of added time – and further Yellow cards for both sides, the officials brought the game to a close and the Shakers claimed their fourth straight win and all three points.
Final Score: Swindon Town 1 Bury 2
Gate: 6,391 (244)
Swindon Town: Henry, Sendles-White (Furlong 28), Branco (Yellow), Thompson (Yellow), Thomas, Barry (Yellow), Kasim (Yellow), Murray (Goddard 68), Brophy, Obika, Delfouneso (Norris 82)
Subs not used: Ormonde-Ottewill, Hylton, Smith, Rodgers
Bury: Williams, Kay (Yellow), Jones, Leigh, Maher, Soares (Yellow), Mellis (Yellow) (Tutte 74), Ismail, Mayor (Yellow) (Dudley 89), Pope (Yellow), Hope (Yellow) (Walker, 68)
Subs not used: Burgess, Miller, Rachubka