Pre-season continued at Gigg Lane, for the Shakers, with the visit of League Two Crewe Alexandra and it was the visitors who started the game the livelier of the two sides with Crewe’s George Cooper taking a first-minute pot-shot at goal from distance, though his effort flew high over the Shakers bar.
With Joe Murphy missing through illness, Lee Clark drafted in a triallist ‘keeper in the shape of former Blackpool and Birmingham City man, Dean Lyness. He was tested again, on three minutes, when a raid down the right-hand flank saw Brad Walker skip into the corner before delivering a fast, low, ball into the box which, thankfully, was devoid of any red shirts, giving Craig Jones plenty of time to clear the ball.
With just five minutes gone, it was Cooper, again, causing the problems for the Shakers defence. This time a surging, direct, run to the edge of the Bury box was met with a robust challenge, from Tom Aldred, which brought the move to an abrupt end although the referee, Graham Salisbury, awarded the free kick. Cooper was quickly on his feet though and curled the free kick around the wall and, fortunately, the post.
Bury’s first chance came on six minutes when debutant Chris Maguire delivered the perfect corner into the Crewe box. Defender Eoghan O’Connell connected with his forehead but could not keep the ball down as it flew high over the bar.
It was Crewe who took the lead, on ten minutes, when the troublesome Cooper, collecting the ball in front of his own dugout, took three or four paces forward before floating a delightful ball high into the box where Brad Walker was on hand to leap and head the ball beyond Lyness and into the corner for a deserved lead for the away side.
Moments later and we saw Bury almost deliver the perfect response. A whipped ball into the box found the head of Jermaine Beckford and he managed to flick the ball to Jay O’Shea, who craftily turned and shot in the same fluid movement, though he failed to keep the shot down as it rose into the back of the Cemetery End.
Beckford was presented with a chance, on 15 minutes, when left back Greg Leigh curled a stunning ball to the back post. Beckford signalled his intentions early by leaning back and almost curling his leg around himself as he lined up the volley. The connection, when it came, was perfect with power and pace behind the ball, unfortunately though, the ball cannoned off the back of a defender and away from goal.
From the clearance, Crewe broke quickly with Callum Ainley collecting the ball on the edge of the Bury box. With only Lyness to beat, the triallist Shakers’ keeper managed to thwart Ainley and got the ball clear.
Eoghan O’Connell was replaced on 21 minutes after a heavy challenge left him limping off the field. With concern rising amongst the Shakers medical staff, the loudest cheer of the afternoon came when Nathan Cameron was brought from the dugout to replace O’Connell.
It took Nathan Cameron just six minutes to inform the Crewe defence that he had arrived into the game. A Bury corner saw Cameron race for the ball, no matter what was in his way. Unfortunately, the collision with Michael Raynes left the Crewe player flat on his back in the Crewe penalty area. Physio’s, from both clubs, as well as Bury’s standby paramedic, raced on the pitch to treat the stricken defender but, thankfully, Raynes was quickly on his feet and continued with the game as big Nathan calmly brushed his shirt straight.
Dean Lyness was called into action again, on 40 minutes, when a powerfully struck, curling, shot from Lowery, forced him into an arching save that he managed to somehow push around the upright for a corner.
Half time: Bury 0 – 1 Crewe Alexandra
Lee Clark made one change at the break. With Chris Maguire a tad behind the rest of the lads in terms of fitness, he was replaced by young Tsun Dai.
Bury almost got back into the game three minutes after the restart with Greg Leigh delivering a great ball to the back post. Jermaine Beckford used all his experience by calmly side footing the ball back across the face of the goal and, unfortunately for the Shakers, just past the far post and out of play.
On 50 minutes Tsun Dai delivered the pass of the game when he received the ball from Dawson on the half way line, turned and calmly stroked the ball forward towards Nicky Ajose. The sheer quality of the pass, which split the Crewe defence in two, drew a huge, appreciative, collective “wow” from the 1100 crowd as Ajose slid a delightful square ball across the box. Sadly, for the Shakers, a covering defender somehow managed to get a toe to the ball as Beckford was just about to pull the trigger and stabbed the ball away to safety. It really was worthy of a goal purely for Tsun’s delivery.
With the minutes passing by, the Shakers started to increase the pressure and showed some fine, quick, passing football. Most of the raids seemed to be going down the left flank with Greg Leigh delivering some quality balls into the box although, remarkably, none found the heads or feet of any one in white shirts.
With twenty minutes remaining Zeli Ismail and young Ryan Cooney replaced Jay O’Shea and Craig Jones as the Shakers searched for a goal which finally arrived, on 84 minutes, after some concerted Bury pressure, when Zeli Ismail put the ball on a sixpence for Jermaine Beckford. Ismail’s delightful, floated, ball into the box was met perfectly with a little-flicked header that went across Garrett in the Alex goal and into the top corner of the net.
The third and final home game of the pre-season came to a close some six minutes later and it was another good work out and test for the lads. The Shakers will continue their pre-season campaign with a short trip to Salford City’s Moor Lane on Tuesday evening.
Bury: Lyness, Jones (Cooney), Leigh, Aldred, O’Connell (Cameron), Maguire (Tsun Dai), Dawson, O’Shea, Ajose, Beckford, Reilly.
Subs: Ryan Cooney, Scott Maloney, Joe Skarz, Nathan Cameron, Tom Heardman, Callum Styles, Chris Sang, Ryan Lowe, Zeli Ismail, Tsun Dai, Adam Thompson
Gate: 1,105 (139)