Oxford United 5 Bury 1
With one defeat in ten games and four clean sheets on the bounce, a confident Bury side took to the field at the Kassam Stadium looking to dampen the atmosphere in Oxford as the home side prepared for a visit to Wembley Stadium, in the Checkatrade Trophy Final, on Sunday. Sadly, for the Shakers, it all went horribly wrong soon after the game started.
It was the home side who took charge of the game within two minutes of the game starting. As Bury attempted to build down the left-hand side, using Greg Leigh’s pace and power, Oxford put in a robust challenge on the Shakers wingback and never really faced any danger from that point on. The challenge saw the ball collected by Johnson and, following a series of passes as he charged forward, the ball eventually felt to Joe Rothwell out wide and his curling ball into the middle fell, invitingly, to Everton loanee Conor McAleny who snapped his shot just wide of Joe Murphy’s goal.
A tenth minute free kick, deep in the Oxford half, following an offside decision against Ryan Lowe, led to the opening goal. U’s ‘keeper Simon Eastwood took the free kick and played a short pass to Curtis Nelson, he strode forward to the edge of the centre circle before playing the ball wide to Marvin Johnson. Johnson took charge from that moment and carved his route to goal. He advanced towards the Bury area and found himself in space and without a challenge for the ball. After using a burst of pace, which left Jacob Mellis stranded, his shot, from the corner of the box, curled lazily in-between Leon Barnett and Antony Kay across goal and into the bottom corner leaving the Shakers defence and ‘keeper asking many questions.
GOAL: Oxford United 1 Bury 0 (Johnson 11)
The U’s then put on a good demonstration in the art of keeping the ball and with the Shakers spending many minutes simply chasing shadows; they looked at least a yard off the pace for the next 15 to 20 minutes as the home side confidently strode around the pitch with the ball.
Another chance fell for Oxford on 20 minutes when, again, following a series of passes, the ball fell to Kane Hemmings on corner of the box, his quick ball to Ruffels saw the midfielder fire a volley at goal but, fortunately for the Shakers, he saw his shot flash inches wide of the opposite post.
The second goal eventually came on 35 minutes with a moment of madness from the Shakers back line. Another marauding run from Johnson saw him slip the ball through with a defence splitting pass. But, with ‘keeper Joe Murphy racing off his line to collect, Kean Bryan covered the ball without touching it allowing Murphy who, by now, was some six to seven yards outside of his area, to take charge. However, Murphy’s touch was a heavy one which allowed Ruffels to tap the ball sideways to Rothwell who had the easiest task of placing the ball into a completely unguarded goal from some 20 yards out. Again, as the U’s celebrated, the Shakers back line were left asking questions of each other following the goal.
GOAL: Oxford United 2 Bury 0 (Rothwell 35)
It only took Oxford a further four minutes to add a third goal, on the counter-attack following a Bury corner. Pennant’s delivery into the box was quickly headed clear and allowed the Yellow shirts to stream forward. The initial cross, into the box, was only headed clear as far as Johnson who, with a delightful ball, switched the play to the opposite side where it was fed to the bye-line for Rob Hall to chase. He, somehow, managed to keep the ball in play and cut the ball back into the six-yard box where McAleny had the easiest of tasks to clip the ball into the back of the net.
GOAL: Oxford United 3 Bury 0 (McAleny 39)
The first half ended with an uncharacteristic, rash, challenge from Ryan Lowe on Marvin Johnson and Shakers manager Lee Clark later admitted that he would not have been surprised of a Red card had been produced. The challenge enraged home supporters and players alike and it was no surprise to see George Miller replace Lowe, with Tom Walker also replacing Jermaine Pennant at the break.
Half time: Oxford United 3 Bury 0
With the two changes made at the break and Bury looking for something of a ‘Walsall’ style comeback, it was the home side that extended their lead just some four minutes after the restart.
As Joe Murphy attempted to clear the ball from the edge of his area, he slipped and the ball only went as far as the halfway line but it landed at the feet of U’s skipper John Lundstram. His quick touch found Rob Hall who quickly slipped it to McAleny on the corner of the box and his shot went through the legs of Taylor Moore, across Joe Murphy, and into the bottom corner of the goal for 4-0.
GOAL: Oxford United 4 Bury 0 (McAleny 49)
The only bright spot, on a dismal night, for the Shakers came just before the hour following a clever run into the box, from George Miller, which produced a corner for the Shakers. The delivery, from Tom Walker, dropped perfectly for James Vaughan who powerfully headed home from close range to claim his 22nd goal of the season, but it was only a consolation goal on the night for the Shakers.
GOAL: Oxford United 4 Bury 1 (Vaughan 59)
Oxford had a further chance to increase their lead moments later when McAleny fed the ball into the box for Hall, but his shot across Joe Murphy brought a quick diving reflex save form the Shakers ‘keeper and it was the same player who, on 80 minutes, should have brought a fifth goal for the home side but, after playing a quick one-two with McAleny, he fired high over the cross bar from close range.
The home side did claim a fifth goal, deep into injury time, with McAleny sealing his second hat trick of the season for the U’s with a near post tap in following some excellent work down the flank from substitute Toni Martinez.
GOAL and Final score: Oxford United 5 Bury 1 (McAleny – hat-trick - 90+5)
Oxford United: Eastwood, Dunkley, Nelson, Edwards, Johnson (Skarz 83), Ruffles, Hall, Rothwell (Sercombe 66), Lundstram, McAleny, Hemmings (Antonio Martinez 66)
Subs not used: Stephens, Raglan, Ribeiro, Long
Bury: Murphy, Barnett, Bryan (Hope 68), Moore, Kay, Mellis, Pennant (Miller 45), Leigh, Caddis, Lowe (Walker 45), Vaughan
Subs not used: Pope, Burgess, Lainton, Beadling
Gate: 6,552 (185)