Bury Town manager Richard Wilkins was left to bemoan the Blues’ ‘lethargic’ display after their play-off hopes were all but extinguished by Margate.
With Met Police losing and Canvey Island and Hendon drawing on Saturday, three points for Bury would have put the pressure on fifth-placed East Thurrock United ahead of Tuesday night’s matches.
However, the Blues needed a headed goal by Adam Tann six minutes from time to share the spoils with Margate on Saturday, after the visitors had turned the match around from John Sands’ opener to lead 2-1.
“I thought we were very lethargic and disappointing — there wasn’t enough quality out there,” said Wilkins, whose side were mathematically eliminated from the play-off race by results on Tuesday. “It was very disappointing because all we could do was keep winning our games and there still would have been half a chance, but now that chance has probably gone.”
Bury are unbeaten in their last five matches, but with four draws in those fixtures, the Blues could have had so much more, especially having hit the front in three of them.
“We don’t kill off teams — I can’t remember the last time we won 1-0 at home,” added Wilkins. “When we go 1-0 up, we should be good enough to be solid and still create our chances ourselves, but it almost has the reverse effect on us.
“The play-offs were still a possibility, but I didn’t see the performances from enough players out on the field to say we could still get in the play-offs.”
Bury made two enforced changes to their 1-1 draw with Lowestoft on Tuesday, with the suspended Tom Bullard and injured Jordan Patrick replaced by Sam Nunn and Lee Reed, respectively.
There was little to enjoy in a pedestrian first half that ended goalless, with Marcus Garnham’s fingertip turning Kezie Ibe’s 25-yard snapshot round the post with the only dangerous effort of the opening 45 minutes.
Margate, who entered the game after five consecutive defeats to end their own play-off hopes, were clearly bereft of confidence and Bury’s first good move of the match finally put the hosts in front.
Lee Reed opened the game up with an excellent pass to Warren Whitely on the right and the winger turned Ryan Dolby inside out before sending over a cross that Sam Reed touched goalwards and John Sands backheeled home.
Rather than push on, Bury began to sat deeper — as they had before conceding a late equaliser to Lowestoft Town the previous Tuesday — and Matt Bodkin’s curling 25-yard free-kick was palmed away by Marcus Garnham before Dean Pooley levelled four minutes past the hour-mark.
The visiting left-back found the top corner perfectly with a looping header from Bodkin’s free-kick, which had been conceded when a hesitant Nunn allowed a long kick to drop over his head and then tug back George Purcell.
Garnham fisted away Purcell’s free-kick and then tremendously denied Tommy Murphy before the visitors moved ahead with 11 minutes to play when Pooley was left unmarked to stab home Bodkin’s left-wing corner.
Ibe and Murphy missed chances to put Margate further ahead and they were made to pay when Adam Tann headed in Marcus Garnham’s long kick downfield.
The Blues failed to push on for a winner and Parker headed Russell Short’s cross at Josh Mattless in their only chance of the closing stages, while Bodkin and Ibe missed the target at the other end.
With both of Bury’s goals coming from crosses, Wilkins implored his side to deliver more dangerous balls.
“The more times you get the ball in that box, the more disruption you cause,” he said.
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