Bury FC made the short journey to the West Coast to take on a Southport side managed by former Shakers’ legend Andy Bishop who is assisted by Bury’s all-time record goalscorer, Craig Madden.
Once again, the Shakers wore their limited edition Royal Blue pre-season shirts with our customary Royal Blue shorts and socks whilst the Sandgrounders displayed their new away strip of Fluorescent Pink shirts, Black shorts and Fluorescent Pink socks.
In front of a crowd of 565 – with 176 Shakers fans making the trip to the seaside – Bury kicked off and immediately were on the attack with Jacob Mellis trying his luck from distance but his effort went over the bar.
As the first half progressed Craig Jones began to find more and more space down the Shakers right hand flank and put over several excellent crosses with Nicky Clark, Tom Pope and Hallam Hope finding them a fraction too high.
Jones, himself, had a great opportunity to put the Shakers ahead when he found himself one on one with Tyrell Belford – brother of former Shaker Cameron Belford – after being put through by a fine ball from Tom Pope but the Southport ‘keeper made an excellent save.
It was Hallam Hope’s turn next when he found space on the edge of the area following an excellent ball, which split the Southport defence, but his effort cannoned back off the stanchion behind the goal as it flew narrowly wide.
The Sandgrounders rarely threatened during the first half but they did have a run of corners which eventually saw Bury break down the right through Jacob Mellis who pinpoint cross was headed just over the bar by Tom Pope who’d charged into the box from deep.
Bury continued to press with both Nicky Clark and Hallam Hope going close but the sides went into the break all square.
Half time: Southport 0 – 0 Bury FC
Southport subs: Kearns off. Grimes on.
Bury began the second half the same way they started the first and that was on the offensive. Greg Leigh was finding space down the left and making some good overlapping runs but the Southport defence, led by another ex-Shaker, Keil O’Brien, were coping with everything that was being put into the box.
Southport had a couple of good efforts from free kicks by former Rochdale and Bradford man Gary Jones and ex-Shaker Ashley Grimes but, thankfully for Bury, they both went high over Ben Williams crossbar.
Just after the hour Bury made a triple substitution with Nathan Cameron, Tom Soares and Nicky Clark making way for Niall Maher, Kelvin Etuhu and Zeli Ismail who was making his Bury début.
Bury FC subs: Cameron, Soares and Clark off. Maher, Etuhu and Ismail on.
Less than five minutes later both sides made further changes with the Shakers swapping Neil Danns and Tom Pope for Andrew Tutte and Anthony Dudley
Bury FC subs: Danns and Pope off. Tutte and Dudley on.
Southport subs: Gray off. Cofie on.
Niall Maher almost bagged his first goal from the club in spectacular style when, from a corner on the right hand side, with his back to goal, he produced a wonderful overhead kick but, unfortunately, it was straight at Belford in the Southport goal.
After 71 minutes the Shakers eventually took the lead when, following great work down the left hand side by Greg Leigh and Jacob Mellis, Hallam Hope found the ball at his feet around 12 yards out on the left hand side of the box and he curled a sweet strike around Belford into the far corner.
GOAL: Southport 0 – 1 Bury FC (Hallam Hope)
Shortly after the restart it was that man Hope again who found himself free inside the box but his shot deflected out off O’Brien for a corner.
Sandgrounders boss Andy Bishop then made another couple of changes as Southport looked to get back into the match with Allen and Nolan being replaced by Jago and McCarthy
Southport subs: Allen and Nolan off. Jago and McCarthy on.
The change paid dividends for the home side when, shortly after coming on, it was Ben Jago who slid home the equalizer when the ball fell kindly for him following a great save by Ben Williams in the Bury goal from Louis Almond’s superbly executed free kick on the left hand side a few yards outside the box. Williams managed to tip the ball onto his right hand post but the ball came back across the goal and the unmarked Jago gleefully finished to level the game up.
GOAL: Southport 1 – 1 Bury FC (Ben Jago)
The only efforts in the few minutes that remained were from Ashley Grimes who fired another curling free kick high over the bar and, at the other end, Kelvin Etuhu’s wild effort which was more suited to the Millennium Stadium than the Merseyrail Community Stadium as it flew high over Tyrell Belford’s crossbar.
The final whistle went without any additional time being played and all in all it was a good run out for the Shakers who have Development Squad fixtures against Ramsbottom United on Wednesday evening and our annual trip to Stainton Park to face Radcliffe Borough on Friday night before the first team travel to Bloomfield Road to face Blackpool next Saturday afternoon, kick off 3:00pm.
Full time: Southport 1- 1 Bury FC
Bury FC: Williams, Jones, Cameron, Barnett, Leigh, Soares, Danns, Mellis, Clark, Pope, Hope
Subs: Ruddy, Maher, Etuhu, Dudley, Miller, Ismail, Tutte, Lenighan (Triallist)
Southport FC: Belford, White, Ashton, Nolan, O’Brien, Allen, Kearns, Gray, Almond, Jones
Subs: Crump, Grimes, Cofie, McCarthy, Jago, Carberry
Referee: Peter Wright
Assistant Referees: Liam Ockleshaw, Keiran Johnson
Fourth Official: Gordon Johnson