Three points, a clean sheet and League One Safety
A rare headed goal from Danny Mayor in the 63rd minute not only secured League One football for the Shakers, but it also claimed a first win on the road since January.
Mayor was on hand on the back post to powerfully head home a stunning Craig Jones cross from the right hand side of the Swindon box to secure the points and that, coupled with a robust defensive display from the Shakers back four, brought a season total of 57 points and that was enough to secure safety for the Shakers.
With the Shakers lining up in a 4-5-1 formation, it soon became evident that Danny Mayor, Danny Gardner and John O’Sullivan had been let off their reins and were each given a virtual free role to drift across the front in support of lone striker Leon Clarke.
The early action was at the back though with on loan central defender Cian Bolger receiving his third yellow card, in the fourth minute, since arriving from Southend United for a long, stretching, lunge on Jonathan Obika. The resulting free kick brought a first chance of the afternoon for former Shaker and Bury born Nicky Ajose. His free kick lacked direction though and his effort curled harmlessly around Chris Neal’s right hand post.
Moments later, a long ball from the back from Craig Jones saw Leon Clarke, who was roundly booed by the home fans every time he touched the ball, chase the ball into the corner. His challenge on two Swindon defenders though brought a free kick to the Robins.
From their resulting free kick, on loan ‘keeper Jake Kean fired the ball the length of the field to find Ajose who attempted to take the ball around Peter Clarke, but Ajose had collected the ball in an offside position though Clarke still managed to poke the ball away from the former Manchester United man.
Swift passing from Swindon on seven minuets saw Louis Thompson break into the Shakers box. Tom Soares used his shoulder to persuade the Swindon player off the ball, prompting a raucous appeal for a penalty from the home fans but referee Darren Deadman waved away their protests and allowed the Shakers back four to clear the ball to safety.
John O’Sullivan and Danny Gardner produced a nice spell of passing football on eleven minutes as they took the ball forward, a move which eventually saw a run from Danny Mayor down the left hand flank that invited a telling ball to be played, but when it did come, the pass was over hit and any chance to progress the flowing movement forward was lost on the visitors.
Danny Mayor showed a moment of petulance on 14 minutes when he was challenged on the ball by Thompson and lost possession and with the Swindon player looking to get away with the ball, Mayor gave chase and clipped his trailing foot to bring Thompson crashing to the floor. An action that brought a second yellow card for Bury.
Another flowing move from the Shakers came on 20 minutes when O’Sullivan found Leon Clarke just inside the Swindon box but just as Leon was about to pull the trigger on a shot on goal, Jordan Turnbull appeared from nowhere to push the ball out for a Shakers corner.
Bury’s best chance, of the first half, came moments later when Gardner lofted the ball over the top. Leon Clarke gave chance and with the stadium expecting an off-side flag, Leon somehow got a toe to the ball and forced Robins ‘keeper Kean to tip the effort over the bar, for a second corner, from close range. Kean was forced into action again, on 25 minutes, this time diving across his goal following another Gardner cross and pushing the ball away from a loitering Leon Clarke behind him.
Swindon had a spell of pressure on 30 minutes with a quick burst forward involving Ajose and Obika, but the latter snapped at his shot and his effort lacked both pace and direction and caused the corner flag more trouble than Shakers ‘keeper Chris Neal.
Danny Mayor then tested the Robins on-loan keeper with a shot from outside the box on 32 minutes after bring the ball inside from a wide position. Jake Kean though was equal to the effort from Mayor though despite it taking an awkward bounce on the six-yard line.
A 37th minute Chris Hussey corner brought the next chance for Bury, this time Tom Soares rose majestically on the six-yard line to meet the ball with his head, but his effort flashed across goal and out for a Swindon goal kick.
Just before the break, another Chris Hussey ball, this time from the back, was threaded through the heart of the Swindon defence, but Leon Clarke’s run was thwarted by another offside flag on the near side.
Half Time: Swindon Town 0 Bury 0
The home side began the second half the brighter of the two sides with Ajose chasing a ball into the Bury box. It was a straight, two horse, race between Bolger and Ajose with the Bury defender getting there a split second before the former Shaker and he just managed to get the ball out of play.
Danny Mayor showed a touch of bravery on 51 minutes when he chased a ball wide and stepped into a robust challenge from Thompson. The challenge earned the home player a yellow card and Bury the free kick. From that free kick, Hussey’s delivery eventually fell to John O’Sullivan but his speculative shot on goal flew well wide and very high over the Swindon goal.
Bury were beginning to use their pace and width to good advantage now and, on 63 minutes, got the breakthrough they deserved. A short ball from Craig Jones found Leon Clarke and his touch played the ball back to Gardner who played a quick one-two with Jones. Gardner’s pass into the corner though looked to be a lost cause but the never-say-die Jones chased it towards the bye-line and whipped in a telling ball to the back post where Danny Mayor rose above a Swindon defender on the six-yard line and powerfully headed the ball home, beyond a floundering Kean, for his sixth goal of the season.
Goal: Swindon Town 0 Bury 1 (Mayor)
All of a sudden there was some urgency in Swindon’s football and they started to close Bury down quickly as well as showing a lot more urgency in their passing. A Bradley Barry cross from the corner was expertly charged down by Chris Hussey and out for a Swindon corner and moments later a Thompson cross was plucked out of the air by Chris Neal as Obika attempted to steal a yard behind him.
James Brophy, Swindon’s power down the left flank, who had been superbly marshalled by an impressive performance from Craig Jones, attempted to fly down the wing towards the Shakers box on 70 minutes, but a superb sliding challenge from Jones saw the ball crash out of play and another Swindon move came to nought.
The home side were raining crosses into the box but keeper Chris Neal was largely untroubled as Peter Clarke and Cian Bolger both rose to the occasion with multiple blocks and headers clear.
Reece Brown replaced Danny Gardner on 71 minutes with the on-loan Chesterfield midfielder having his best game since arriving at Gigg Lane and he left the pitch to a good round of applause from the travelling 269 Shakers fans.
Moments after the substitution, Leon Clarke played the ball into the box where a charging Danny Mayor took a touch that took the ball around the ‘keeper, but his momentum saw him run away from the ball and the chance was lost as home defender Turnbull smashed the ball up the field.
On 80 minutes a cross into the box from Brophy found Nicky Ajose and, with his back to goal, he attempted to turn and shoot in one movement but, although successful with the movement, the end result was a ball hitting the underside of the roof of the stand behind the goal.
A result of Craig Jones preventing a corner on 82 minutes saw him smash the ball into the stand for a home throw. Brophy took a quick throw and found Obika in the corner, his floated ball into the box fell invitingly to the feet of Michael Doughty and, with a virtually open goal in front of him, he somehow smashed the ball off the post and back out into play, which Craig Jones happily proceeded to clear up the park.
More balls were lofted into the Shakers box but the home side found the back four resolute and strong with Peter Clarke and Bolger equal to every effort that came in. Another chance came on 87 minutes when Obika found the ball at his feet on the edge of the Shakers box but his curling attempt at the top corner of Neal’s goal cannoned off the crossbar and again Jones happily smashed the ball away and up the field.
Shakers ‘keeper Chris Neal was called into serious action on 92 minutes when a pumped ball into the box took a slight deflection of Reece Brown standing just to the left of Neal but his quick reaction saw him hold the ball firmly, though the home side did launch a half-hearted appeal for hand ball from Brown, an appeal which brought nothing from referee Darren Deadman.
Finally, with four minutes of injury time played, the referee brought the game to a halt and with three points, a clean sheet and League One safety assured the travelling Shakers left an away ground happy for the first time since the end of January.
Final Score: Swindon Town 0 Bury 1