The first move of the afternoon came from a very effective Chris Humphrey on five minutes. His pace down the flank drew a defender out of the area to meet him, and as he was about to make the challenge, Humphrey delivered a stunning cross that sailed slightly behind striker Michael Smith. The forward Pompey man twisted and managed to hook his foot through the ball, but could only send his shot rising above the bar from the edge of the box.
Josh Laurent was the next to try with a shot from around 20 yards on 11 minutes. After collecting the ball from Greg Leigh, Laurent took two touches before driving the ball at goal, but his effort lacked any venomous pace and was easily dealt with by keeper McCormick.
A Bury free kick on the quarter hour, following a foul on Smith, brought Chris Maguire into action, and his curling effort from the set-piece brought the first good save from the Argyle keeper, though he did need two attempts at holding the ball.
Within three minutes, Josh Laurent found himself in a similar position to his first shot – and went for exactly the same again, though this time his effort had the pace and direction, but could not beat McCormick as he tipped the ball around the post for a Shaker's corner. From that corner, Maguire’s delivery found Laurent, via the head of Smith, but from six yards out, Keeper McCormick again managed to save the goal-bound effort.
Another chance came the way of Mike Smith on 21 minutes. Harry Bunn and Chris Humphrey combining down the flank before the latter delivered another great cross into the box. Smith connected with a firm header, but could only send his effort wide. It was exactly the same on 26 minutes with the same combination delivering the same outcome.
Probably the best chance of the first half came on 40 minutes. Another Humphrey cross fell to Mike Smith on the edge of the box. His initial shot seemed to be heading wide of the target, but somehow deflected of Nathan Cameron and straight into the arms of Luke McCormick.
Smith had another effort just before the break when Humphrey delivered the ball to the shakers striker. With his back to goal, and at an acute angle, he managed to turn quickly and fired the ball at goal from a tight angle, only for it again to slide out of play for a goal kick.
Bury began the second half on the front foot. A high ball forward from Ince fell nicely for Smith on the edge of the box, his first time shot though brought a challenge from the Argyle defence that saw the ball cannon off high into the air and out for a Bury corner. Maguire’s corner was pushed to the edge of the box where Smith let fly with a stunning shot on the half volley, but again – keeper McCormick was perfectly positioned to save the shot.
Chris Maguire surprised many with a 51st-minute free kick. From a very acute angle in the corner, the former Oxford man fired the ball straight at goal. Luke McCormick reacted the quicker as he managed to get a hand to the ball whilst diving to push it away from goal.
The game really came to life in the final ten minutes. The pace of Mihai Dobre has people rising from their seats and one such run came on 80 minutes. Collecting the ball on the halfway line, Dobre charged at the Argyle defence before delivering a great pass to Smith. His first time shot beat keeper McCormick but cannoned back into play of the post leaving the visiting defence the chance to smash the ball clear.
With Plymouth having made all three substitutions, keeper McCormick caused the visitors great concern on 82 minutes when a challenge in the box left him injured. After lengthy treatment, he was pushed back to his feet for the final eight minutes, though seemed to be obviously struggling.
Two minutes later and another electrifying run from Dobre saw him take the ball to the edge of the box before pulling the trigger on a rasping shot, that unbelievably, McCormick saved. The frustration shown in the young Romanian winger was obvious for everyone to see.
Dobre repeated the effort two minutes later, and again McCormick was equal to the shot and saved well with a dive to his left. With time quickly running out, it was down to the on-loan Bournemouth winger to again show his frustration as another shot was stunningly saved by McCormick, though this time he didn’t hold the ball and it bounced back into play and straight to Laurent, who unleashed an equally venomous shot that again – McCormick saved.
As the Green Army behind the goal celebrated the save, the officials brought the game to a half and both sides finished the game with a point and a clean sheet and for Plymouth Argyle keeper Luke McCormick, the praise he deserved from his team-mates and fans.
Bury: J Murphy, P Edwards, N Cameron, G Leigh, T Aldred, R Ince, C Humphrey (R Lowe, 66), J Laurent, H Bunn (M Dobre, 57), M Smith, C Maguire
Subs not used: R Cooney, L Fasan, J Williams, C Styles, J Skarz
Plymouth Argyle: L McCormick, S Bradley, Y Songo'o, G Miller, G Sawyer, D Fox (R Lameiras, 65), A Sarcevic, J Ness, L Ainsworth (J Jervis, 77), J Grant, N Ciftci (A Fletcher, 68)
Subs not used: N Blissett, R te Loeke, G Wylde, J Sokolik
Gate: 3,642 (526 Plymouth fans)