Bury 0 Oldham Athletic 1
A tenth minute own goal from Shakers debutant Leon Barnett was the only talking point of a miserable afternoon at Gigg Lane as the Shakers suffered a first home defeat of the season.
The afternoon began with positive news as the club revealed a new two-year contract for central defender Nathan Cameron but, some two hours later, it would appear to be the only positive outcome of the day.
Shakers boss David Flitcroft was forced into a couple of changes before kick-off. Neil Danns and Nathan Cameron both failed to shake off injuries collected during Tuesday night’s goalless draw at the Ricoh Arena and so Zeli Ismail and Leon Barnett were drafted into the starting eleven ahead of the game on a wet afternoon at Gigg Lane.
The Shakers began the game brightly with a quick raid down the flank and following the visitors pushing the ball out of play for a Bury throw, Greg Leigh quickly found Danny Mayor in the corner before passing the ball around the Oldham box for Ismail to chase into the corner and his clever ball, back into the box, was intercepted by former Shaker Peter Clarke but Ismail rushed at him and forced a Bury corner.
Ismail’s corner was cleared and pushed all the way back to Ben Williams, but his quick clearance found Danny Mayor, who took the ball on before spreading it wide to Zeli Ismail, who repeated his earlier run and won a second Bury corner.
It took the Shakers four minutes to produce their first meaningful raid on the visitors goal when, following a clever one-two between Mayor and Pope, the 4,479 Gigg Lane crowd saw Mayor burst into the box before hitting the ball at goal but, unfortunately for Bury, his effort lacked the power needed to beat Latics ‘keeper Connor Ripley.
Moments later, another Danny Mayor run down the left hand side saw him deliver a looping ball into the Oldham box and, with Tom Pope already straining his neck to head the ball at goal, the young Oldham stopper Ripley had to be aware to beat him to the ball and he did just that with an acrobatic dive and punch to get the ball away from danger.
On ten minutes, the visitors produced their first series of passes to work the ball down into the Bury half of the field. A quick interchange of play between three Latics saw the ball fall to the feet of Paul Green and his curling ball into the box looked dangerous and, as such, central defender and Bury debutant Leon Barnett rose in an attempt to clear the ball, unfortunately for the former Wigan man, the ball glanced off his head and flew beyond Ben Williams for what turned out to be the only goal of the game.
Goal: Bury 0 Oldham Athletic 1 (Leon Barnett OG)
The goal visibly lifted the Oldham players and seemed to have exactly the opposite effect on the Bury players as the visitors then enjoyed a large amount of time on the ball without really troubling Ben Williams.
A lunging challenge on Tom Soares inside the centre circle brought a Shakers free kick. The quickly taken dead ball was again fed out wide to the threatening Zeli Ismail, who then tore down the wing before delivering an excellent ball into the box but Tom Pope found his former team-mate Peter Clarke leaping above him to head the ball out of play for another Bury corner.
A foul on Mayor in the Oldham corner on 27 minutes brought the Shakers a free kick just off the corner flag. Zeli Ismail whipped the ball into the Oldham six yard box where Leon Barnett managed to get a slight looping header in on the ball, but directed he it with a lack of power straight into the arms of Ripley.
Oldham should have doubled their lead soon after when former Shakers loanee Lee Erwin collected the ball on the edge of the box and turned quickly before directing a weak, bobbling, shot at goal. His effort, though lacking in power and pace, was thwarted by the hand of Ben Williams in the Bury goal and thankfully bounced off the far post and back into play and the follow up from Flynn was blocked by Barnett, who then attempted to clear the ball out of harm’s way, but he fired his clearance straight into the chest of Billy McKay, though thankfully Williams was alert and quickly smothered the loose ball.
The Shakers day got worse as they lost Kelvin Etuhu, to injury, shortly before half time, with Hallam Hope replacing him.
Half Time: Bury 0 Oldham Athletic 1
Oldham got the second half started but it was the Shakers who took game under control for a spell. Another Zeli Ismail cross from the touchline on 50 minutes saw the ball loop towards the back post but the Oldham ‘keeper, Connor Ripley, just got to the ball before being clattered by Tom Pope, which the referee decided was unlawful and gave a free kick for the challenge.
With an hour of the game gone, David Flitcroft made a tactical change by bringing on Nicky Clark to replace Jacob Mellis. The change also brought a change of shape with Clark playing up front alongside Tom Pope.
Within two minutes of changing shape, a quick release from Ben Williams fell to Danny Mayor on the half-way line, his only thought was to get the ball forward and, with a drop of the shoulder and a quick turn, he left his covering defender for dead before playing the ball wide to Ismail. The former Wolves winger cut inside his man and fired the ball at goal from the corner of the box and his effort forced Ripley into a fine save to put the ball out for yet another Bury corner.
Ismail delivered the ball into the box where Leon Barnett rose above Cameron Burgess to head the ball down to Nicky Clark and the former Rangers striker attempted to turn and strike the ball at goal but, with Ripley also chasing the same ball, the shot, when it came, cannoned off the ‘keeper and away from danger.
Another Bury raid down the flank on 83 minutes brought more good work from Danny Mayor, with a quick interchange of passes between Mayor and Ismail, it was Mayor who delivered the ball into the box where Nicky Clark swung his foot at the ball, side on to goal, only for the ball to fly high and wide of the target. Clark was to have another chance minutes later when Mayor, again, tricked the visiting defence, this time by delivering the ball from the touchline to Clark but he snapped at the ball and, agonisingly, fired the ball across goal and beyond the far post for a goal kick.
Finally, after four minutes of added time, referee Stephen Martin brought the game to a close and his whistle sealed the Shakers first home defeat of the season.
Final Score: Bury 0 Oldham Athletic 1
Bury: Williams, Etuhu (Hope 41), Leigh, Kay, Jones, Pope, Ismail, Soares, Mellis (Clark 57), Mayor, Barnett
Subs not used: Rachubka, Burgess, Maher, Dudley
Oldham Athletic: Ripley, Dunne, Burgess, Clarke, Law, Flynn (Woodland 87), Green, Fane, Klok (Croft 76), Erwin, McKay (Osei 78)
Subs not used: McLaughlin, Banks, Wilson, Kettings
Gate: 4,479 (1,554 visitors)