SECOND QUALIFYING ROUND
Bury Town 2 Wingate and Finchley 1
by Derek Bish at Ram Meadow
BURY Town midfielder John Kennedy was delighted to have squeezed through to the third qualifying round of the FA Cup, but admitted it was an otherwise frustrating afternoon for the Blues.
Billy Clark struck his seventh goal of the season in just eight matches to send Bury through after Wingate and Finchley’s Leon Smith had cancelled out Lee Reed’s opener.
Home goalkeeper Marcus Garnham also saved a penalty early in the second period with the score at 1-1 as Richard Wilkins’ men did just enough to book a home tie with Ryman Premier rivals Hampton and Richmond Borough on October 6.
“We didn’t play as well as we have done,” said Kennedy. “It was a bit frustrating because we didn’t really get going, but we dug in and ground it out.
“We were a bit lucky at times because the other team missed chances and although it wasn’t one of our better games the main thing is we won to get through.”
There was little quality on show from either side, with neither able to put their foot on the ball and build from the back in a fast and frantic cup tie.
From the only real moment of quality in the first half, Mark Coulson stroked the ball wide of the target from Sam Reed’s cutback and even when a goal arrived there was something somewhat scruffy about it.
The interchange between Lee Reed and Sam Reed unlocked the Wingate defence, the latter terrifying the visiting defence with his dribbling, before brother Lee received the ball with his back to goal, swivelled and scuffed the ball low into the right corner of the net past a static Bobby Smith.
It had taken Bury 33 minutes to gain the advantage, but they threw it away just six minutes later when Tom Bullard gave Leon Smith too much space to turn and the Wingate striker punished the Blues’ captain by burying the ball past Marcus Garnham with aplomb.
Bullard should have made amends, but could not connect with Lee Reed’s inswinging free-kick from the right at the back post.
The only change after the break was for the game to become even more frenetic, with a rare error by John Kennedy almost costing the home team.
His pass to Bullard left the centre-half in trouble, allowing Murat Karagul to pounce before theatrically hitting the deck as Kennedy, Bullard, Coulson and Connor Hall attempted to recover the situation.
Referee Jonathan Burridge pointed to the spot, but the visitors could not take advantage as Garnham flung himself to his right to keep out David Laird’s spot-kick.
The Blues seemed to realise their cup dream could end at the second qualifying round stage for the second consecutive year and sparked themselves into action, with Clark and Sam Reed both denied from acute angles by Bobby Smith at the custodian’s right-hand post.
As has already happened so often this season, the winning goal would come from Clark.
Russell Short surged to the byline on the right and clipped a cross to the far post for the former Ipswich Town midfielder to loop his header into the right of the goal – a telling contribution on an otherwise quiet afternoon for the youngster.
Bury should have put the game out of sight when Lee Reed raced on to Jordan Patrick’s pass, only to be caught dallying in possession by Paul Wright, before Hall’s header was brilliantly cleared off the line with the teenager – who has been linked with a move into the Football League this week – somehow scooping the rebound over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.
The Blues’ failure to put the tie out of sight led to a late Wingate onslaught, but the only time Garnham found himself troubled was when he comfortably smothered Marc Weatherstone’s header.