Bury 1 Gillingham 2
Bury’s five game unbeaten run came to an end at Gigg Lane as visitors Gillingham took all three points, courtesy of a goal in each half, with James Vaughan grabbing his 20th goal of the season in spectacular fashion, although, in the end, it turned out to be just a consolation goal despite some heavy pressure from the Shakers.
With both sides looking over their shoulders at the drop zone, ahead of the game, it was the Shakers that took the game to Gillingham in the opening minutes. Some quick, passing, football from Bury, in a move involving six players, saw Callum Styles play a short pass to Jacob Mellis whose ball across the midfield picked out an advancing Leon Barnett. Initially, it looked like Barnett was attempting a quick one-two pass with Vaughan, with the Shakers defender bursting into the visitor’s box but, as his run took a defender away from James Vaughan, he elected to shoot from just outside the area, but he could only hit the stand containing the 199 visiting supporters, housed in the Cemetery End, behind the goal.
Moments later, another surge forward from Bury, again involving Leon Barnett, saw him slip the ball wide to Taylor Moore but his initial cross was blocked and pushed out for a throw by the corner flag. Moore’s long throw, into the Gillingham penalty area, was quickly cleared, but only as far as Jacob Mellis, who quickly hit the ball on the half volley but, again, his effort flew wide of the target.
Gillingham took the lead, against the run of play, though when, on 14 minutes, Bury surged forward with Callum Styles, but his ball across the front of the Gillingham box was intercepted and quickly cleared with a long ball forward from Byrne. A quick touch from Lee Martin saw the ball pushed to Bradley Dack, on the right hand corner of the Shakers penalty box, and his crisp, angled, shot, across the face of the Bury goal, took an awful bobble just in front of Bury ‘keeper Joe Murphy to escape his despairing dive and into the far corner for the opening goal.
GOAL: Bury 0 Gillingham 1 (Dack 14)
The Bury players, along with the entire South Stand, voiced a loud appeal for a penalty on 20 minutes when a Greg Leigh cross was collected by Tom Pope on the six-yard line. At the time, it looked to be a push in the back and, with the benefit of hindsight and looking at the video, the appeal certainly seemed justified but referee Darren Drysdale waved away any such thought of a penalty.
Bury kept the ball though and, as in the opening minutes, Leon Barnett again attempted a one-two pass with James Vaughan with the same result as Barnett’s run drew a defender away from the striker, allowing Vaughan to position himself for a shot but, as with the first exchange, his shot flew inches wide of the target.
Bury should have been on level terms on 22 minutes when a move that started at the heart of the Shakers defence with the impressive Leon Barnett, saw the ball fed to Paul Caddis. His inviting cross, into the box, sailed over a leaping Vaughan and Pope and fell superbly for Greg Leigh but, somehow, the Shakers left back managed to divert the ball wide of the far post from close range, leaving the former Bradford City man beating the floor in frustration.
Jacob Mellis was the next to test The Gills back four, this time from a short pass from Styles following a good one-two with Greg Leigh. Styles clipped the ball into the path of Mellis who elected to shoot on goal from outside the area but his effort, although it forced a diving save from Nelson, lacked any threatening pace and ‘keeper collected the ball easily.
Half time: Bury 0 Gillingham 1
Gillingham came out for the second period and looked to have started the second period the brighter of the two sides and they won a corner, inside two minutes of the restart, after a robust clearance on a jinking run from McDonald as Leon Barnett just managed to get his foot to the ball. However, from the resulting corner, Bradley Dack managed to pick out and unmarked Cody McDonald, on the edge of the six-yard area, who managed to head the ball home through a packed crowd of both sets of players.
GOAL: Bury 0 Gillingham 2 (McDonald 47)
After the second goal, Bury began to turn the screw and won a series of free kicks. One such free kick, on 51 minutes, following yet another foul on James Vaughan saw a curling, looping, delivery from Mellis but he couldn’t find a white shirt and the ball was smashed back up the field by McDonald before being pushed back to Joe Murphy by Greg Leigh.
Callum Styles was the next to try with a shot from distance. The move, started by Barnett and Taylor Moore in front of the visitors’ dugout, saw the ball pushed into the middle where young Callum Styles, with a drop of the shoulder and quick turn, left his man for dead and advanced with the ball some ten yards before shooting at goal but, once more, his effort drifted wide of the target.
Moments later and another surge forward from Bury saw George Miller skip past his marker down the left hand side of The Gills area and with the Shakers youngster looking for the angle for the shot, central defender Zesh Rehman forced Miller to pass the ball inside to Mellis, on the edge of the area, who struck a thunderous shot at goal which, unbelievably, crashed back into play, off the upright, after beating ‘keeper Nelson.
As the ball was smashed clear, by the visiting defence, it again fell to Mellis, this time in a wide position, and he cleverly stabbed the ball through the legs of a defender before sprinting past him and delivering a cross into the box. Sadly, from a Shakers point of view, the ball went between both Vaughan and Miller before it was fed back to Cameron Burgess who’s curling ball, into the box, was over hit and bounced out for a goal kick.
A Greg Leigh run down the left hand flank saw him cut into the box where Zesh Rehman tugged and pulled at Leigh to prevent his progress. If he had tugged just a little harder, he would have taken the shirt of Leigh’s back yet, somehow, referee Drysdale chose to wave play on with three sides of the stadium totally bemused and furious at the decision.
With just 15 minutes of the game remaining, Bury got back into the game through a familiar scorer. A Greg Leigh throw-in into the box was half cleared by the Gillingham defence but the header fell nicely for Callum Styles who then lofted the ball neatly back into the box where Vaughan, positioned around the penalty spot, with his back to goal, attempted an audacious overhead bicycle kick and smashed the ball into the back of the net. It was a truly superb piece of finishing and it was a fitting way for the Shakers leading marksman to score his 20th goal of the season.
GOAL: Bury 1 Gillingham 2 (James Vaughan 75)
Moments later, George Miller was presented with a chance to equalise when Ryan Lowe slipped the ball through into The Gills box. Miller got in front of his man and flicked the ball goal ward but his effort brought a fine reaction save from Nelson, who quickly smothered the effort at the second attempt.
The Shakers continues to press for the remainder of the game but, despite the pressure and having 60% of the possession and 24 shots at goal in a dominant performance from Bury, it was the visitors that returned South with all three points.
Final score: Bury 1 Gillingham 2
Bury: Murphy, Beadling, Burgess, Barnett, Moore (Pennant 75), Styles, Mellis, Caddis (Lowe 65), Leigh, Pope (Miller 58), Vaughan
Subs not used: Maher, Lainton, Hope, Walker
Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson (Dickenson 40), Rehman, Ehmer, Dack, Byrne, Wright, Osadebe, Martin, Quigley (Parker 59), McDonald
Subs not used: List, Hessenthaler, Muldoon, Cundle, Holy
Attendance: 3,203 (199)