Bury Town 2 Lowestoft Town 4
by Derek Bish at Portman Road
FORMER Bury Town hero Chris Henderson revelled in his two-goal display that saw him help Lowestoft Town comprehensively defeat his old side in the Suffolk Premier Cup final at Portman Road.
The ex-Blues man swapped Ram Meadow for Crown Meadow last summer and has been jeered at every clash between the two sides since.
But he had the last laugh when netting twice in the Trawlerboys’ 4-2 win to end Bury’s hopes of retaining the trophy.
Henderson said: “I’ve been getting a bit of stick off the fans, so it was nice to silence them.
“It’s a fierce rivalry between the two sides, and there was a warning to fans to not make any trouble, but I think both sets of players get on.
“I’ve mostly always ended up on the winning team, so it’s a nice game for me to be part of.”
The first chance of the match fell to Sam Reed, who got Sands’ low cross stuck under his feet in the sixth minute, before Lee Smith fired over the crossbar after Greg Crane had drilled a backpass straight at Lowestoft goalkeeper Andy Reynolds.
Joe Francis was just off target with an ambitious 40-yard attempt that sailed narrowly over before the most contentious moment took place when Sands went down having raced past last man Scott Mitchell.
Referee Alan Dale brandished a yellow card for diving instead of a red card to Mitchell – a decision that angered Bury boss Richard Wilkins, but split the Bury fans’ opinions, with some upset with the former Mildenhall striker for not staying on his feet as he ran through on goal.
Lowestoft moved ahead almost immediately when Lubomir Guentchev sent in a wicked cross from the right that Marcus Garnham punched against Sam Nunn, with the ball looping into the Bury net.
Just two minutes after that 20th-minute opener, the Blues had a wonderful chance to get back in the game when Sam Reed’s volley was handled in the penalty area by Crane.
Sadly for penalty taker Billy Clark, Reynolds guessed correctly, diving full length to his left to keep out the former Ipswich midfielder’s low and powerful strike.
However, after Guentchev had threatened with a free-kick at the other end, Bury got back on level terms with Sands redeeming himself on the half-hour-mark.
Sam Reed hustled his way down the left and cut the ball back to Sands, who swivelled brilliantly before squeezing a left-footed shot across Reynolds and into the net.
The Blues’ lead would last just five minutes, but only after Garnham had acrobatically denied Scott Mitchell, whose free-kick from the edge of the area was heading for the top corner.
However, Bury’s stopper was comprehensively beaten when Francis’ perfectly-weighted pass from the left was stepped over by Andrew Fisk and met with aplomb by Dale Cockrill, who buried the ball into the bottom left corner.
Despite the tremendous atmosphere that had Portman Road rocking, the Blues were unable to find top gear and the Trawlerboys began to threaten to rack up a cricket score.
Michael Frew twice headed off target when he should have done better before Cockrill — who had been denied another goal by the assistant’s flag — sent Henderson racing away to stretch Lowestoft’s lead to 3-1.
The ex-Bury man, who scored in three of four derby games against Lowestoft last season, responded by putting his finger to his lips towards the Bury fans who had been giving him stick for switching allegiances last summer.
He completed a three-minute double salvo in the 74th-minute when he rounded Garnham to tuck home after being released by Frew.
On each occasion the Blues’ defence was caught square and static, allowing the Trawlerboys to cut through them with ease and give Bury a lesson in finishing.
All the west Suffolk side could manage in response was a header from Kieran Leabon that was saved by Reynolds and a 91st-minute penalty, awarded for handball against Crane and converted by Smith – mere consolation on a miserable night for Bury.