The David Flitcroft era began with a draw from a game of two halves against Northampton Town. With Craig Jones propelled to the role of club captain and Andy Procter relegated to the bench, plus a change in shape with the Shakers adopting a diamond formation for the first half.
The change in shape seemed to be heading in the right direction as Bury took the game to the Cobblers with some slick and quick passing. Indeed it took the Shakers just four minutes to get into a full gallop with some neat interchanges involving four players. The final ball from Beeley found Tom Soares on the edge of the box and his shot on goal just drifted wide of the target.
Bury almost took the lead on 14 minutes when Shaun Harrad chased a hopeful ball forward from Sedgwick. Cobbler’s keeper Matt Duke raced off his lead and looked to be winning the race for the loose ball. Somehow he managed to connect first with the ball, but flashed it off Harrad only to see the ball fizz towards an empty goal, though it eventually drifted just wide of the post.
Bury had started the game the much brighter of the two side, with Flitcroft's side looking rejuvenated after a good week on the training ground, and playing with a new spirit. Bury were dominating play with some attractive football and looked threatening with every attack.
The Shakers eventually took the lead from the penalty spot. A good move had seen Shaun Harrad flash the ball across the box from just inside the area, a heavy challenge brought a shout from the home fans for a penalty, but the ball landed at the feet of a charging Craig Jones. Playing at the top of the diamond, Jones stole into the area and was about to pull the trigger, but another challenge from Ricky Ravenhill saw referee Nigel Miller point immediately to the spot. Danny Nardiello claimed the ball for the penalty and rammed it straight down the middle giving keeper Duke absolutely no chance.
GOAL: Bury 1 Northampton Town 1 (Nardiello 22)
Bury’s lead lasted just five minutes though. A Hackett free kick from half way inside the Bury half was floated into the Bury box. Through a clutch of heads, Dean Howell connected first and watched as the ball sailed across a packed box, beating Brian Jensen before finding the back of the net for an own goal.
GOAL: Bury 1 Northampton Town 1 (Howell 27 OG)
The Shakers attempted to get back into the game quickly and from a quick Dean Howell throw, a clever header from Danny Nardiello found Shaun Harrad. The former Cobbler, with his back to goal on the edge of the area, attempted an overhead kick that drifted well wide of the target with an effort that could be best described as optimistic.
Danny Nardiello was causing problems for Northampton in the final third with his pace and skill on the ball; He managed to skip past his man to play a stunning ball from the left by-line across the face of goal to an advancing Craig Jones. The ball just needed a touch to divert it over the line, but the Shakers skipper – at full stretch – just couldn’t connect with the ball and it sailed away to safety.
Bury should have taken the lead five minutes before the break. Stunning footwork and quick feet from Beeley & Jones saw the ball delivered back to Shaun Beeley as he cut into the box from the touchline. He cleverly found the head of Tom Soares just off the six yard line. His quick header looked to be heading to the top corner until an acrobatic leap from Matt Duke managed to claw the effort away from goal.
Northampton cleared the ball from their area and eventually fed it to Ravenhill out wide, he flicked the ball into the Bury box and found Izale McLeod. As he attempted to turn around Edjenguele, the Shakers defender was caught flat footed and brought the McLeod to the ground. There was only one outcome and both referee and linesman came up with the same decision – a penalty. Chris Hackett though may not be taking many more penalties as he flashed his ball so high over the Shakers bar, that it might even be found on the Shakers training ground a mile down the road.
Half Time: Bury 1 Northampton Town
Tom Soares failed to emerge for the second half with Ashley Grimes replacing him. David Flitcroft was to later confirm a hamstring problem for Soares. The change also brought a slight change in shape, but it was the ferocious weather with heavy rain and strong winds that took charge of the pitch within the JD Stadium.
Bury's first real threat of the half came on the 61st minute when the ball fell to Ashley Grimes at the near post. Matt Duke was quick off his line to cause Grimes problems, but the former Rochdale striker managed take the ball away from Duke and onto the touch line. Eventually the ball was slipped to Shaun Harrad who swung a foot through the ball to send it wide of the target.
Shortly after, Shaun Harrad was replaced by Danny Mayor and the Shakers reverted to a 4-4-2 with Jones and Mayor operating down their respective flanks. Soon after Brian Jensen was called upon to make his first real save of the game when Stuart Dallas forced through the Shakers defence, with Jensen diving smartly at his feet to keep the scores level.
Chris Sedgwick was replaced soon after. A challenge saw the veteran midfielder take a knock to the head that would later require the stitching skills of the club doctor. Video evidence would suggest that Sedgwick had indeed been caught by an elbow.
The game eventually crawled to an end without either side testing their respective keepers, and with the pitch soaking the rain in, it became evident that the surface was deteriorating quickly.
David Flitcroft’s first 90 minutes came to an end with the game finishing all square, and the new Shakers gaffer would probably be the first to admit that he now knows a hell of a lot more than he did at 3pm.
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