The Shakers were able to defeat the ‘Manager of the Month curse’ after an impressive 2-0 workman-like victory over fellow promotion chasers Exeter City. Goals from Jay O’Shea and Byron Moore either side of the interval saw Bury take all 3 points.
Ryan Lowe named nine changes to his starting eleven that won 1-0 at Mansfield in the Checkatrade Trophy in midweek, a move that certainly highlights the strength in depth that the League Two Manager of the Month for November can deploy.
The Shakers controlled the opening 10 minutes, penning the visitors in their final third. Unfortunately for Bury, they couldn’t break down the Exeter defence, with keeping your balance becoming increasingly difficult with the heavy downpour.
Eoghan O’Connell should have had his side ahead 18 minutes into the contest. Nicky Adams stood over a free-kick on the right-hand side, halfway in the attacking half. He found the Bury number 6 who had a free header just past the penalty spot. Unfortunately, the glancing header was just wide of the mark.
Pym was called into action after 25 minutes. Some good link-up play from Danny Mayor and Callum McFadzean down the left resulted in the latter whipping a trademark low cross into the middle, forcing Pym to get down quickly to gather the ball in his six-yard box.
It was the Shakers who had the next big chance of the game, forcing Christy Pym into another save, again by McFadzean. Nicky Maynard touched the ball into Byron Moore’s path with a delightful first touch. Moore found Mayor who beat three defenders before switching the ball to Nicky Adams. The Bury vice-captain put a dangerous cross into the back post, where Pym needed a reflex save to deny Callum McFadzean.
A clever short corner helped the Shakers again, go close to taking the lead. Adams and Mayor worked well to get Adams a chance to pull the trigger. His effort was on target but cleared by the Exeter City defence for another corner, which unfortunately didn’t create anything for Ryan Lowe’s men.
The Exeter defence were continuing to struggle to contain McFadzean. He slipped in behind after a superb through ball from Jay O’Shea and drove a cross into the middle. Unfortunately, it had everyone beat, and nothing came from it.
Jay O’Shea picked up from where he left off in November; yesterday he was named Sky Bet League Two Player of the Month for November, scoring five goals in six appearances, today he made it one in one for December in the league, in sublime fashion. The problematic Callum McFadzean squared the ball to the midfielder on the edge of the area, who then curled an effort in the top corner to put his side ahead.
Exeter tried to hit back in the three minutes of stoppage time, but Adam Thompson was able to assert his aerial dominance, heading the danger away.
HALF-TIME: Bury 1-0 Exeter City
The visitors got off to a better start than the Shakers in the second half, and they were rewarded with a penalty kick after 52 minutes. Jayden Stockley was about to pull the trigger when he was tripped by Chris Stokes inside the area. He stepped up himself to take the penalty, only to see it saved by a terrific stop by Murphy. The Bury shot-stopper was down to his left to get his hands to the ball that looked destined for the bottom corner.
Exeter were starting to look a real threat on the Bury goal. The ball was headed back across goal to Jayden Stockley who had the chance to redeem himself after his penalty miss. Stockley wasn’t able to though, as Will Aimson threw his body on the line to block the effort to defend the one-goal cushion for his side.
The hosts then showed their pace, countering from the Stockley effort, getting Maynard in on goal. It took a last-ditch challenge from Aaron Martin to prevent the forward challenging Pym in between the Exeter sticks.
A slip from Dean Moxey allowed O’Shea to win the ball back in the attacking half as the Shakers had a three on two. He passed the ball into Maynard who opened the ball up with his first touch before firing over into the West Stand, in what was his last contribution before being replaced by Dom Telford.
Stockley was proving to be a real handful. Bringing the ball down on his chest in the area, he volleyed an effort from 10-yards over the bar. He should have at least been testing Murphy from that distance.
Despite soaking up much more pressure from the visitors in the second half, Ryan Lowe’s men showed why they are the top scorers in the league. Moore was on the end of an impeccable Nicky Adams through ball. The forward rounded Christy Pym before rolling the ball home into an unguarded net, doubling the Shakers’ lead.
The Shakers were able to control the closing exchanges, holding on to their two-goal cushion comfortably, as they kicked off a busy December in the league in the best possible way.
FULL-TIME: Bury 2-0 Exeter City
Bury: Murphy (GK), Stokes, Thompson, O’Connell (23’ Aimson), Adams (79’ Miller), Mayor, Moore, McFadzean, O’Shea, Danns (C), Maynard (69’ Telford)
Unused Subs: Hudson (GK), Dagnall, Styles, Lavery
Exeter City: Pym (GK), Sweeney, Woodman (59’ Moxey), O’Shea, Aaron Martin, Tillson (65’ Lee Martin), Law, Holmes, Stockley, Ogbene (82’ Forte), Taylor ©
Unused Subs: Hamon (GK), Jay, Collins, Abrahams
Attendance: 3,328 with 209 making the trip to support Exeter. Thanks for your terrific support on a rather wet afternoon.