Kye Ruel was delighted to make an impact on his Bury Town debut after brilliantly setting up the Blues’ equaliser against Leatherhead.
The former Leiston, East Thurrock United and Witham Town winger showed great imagination to scoop the ball through to on-field captain Seb Dunbar to secure the Ram Meadow-based outfit a point with 12 minutes to play on Tuesday.
Although the result was not enough to stop Ben Chenery’s charges dropping into the Ryman League Premier Division relegation zone, Ruel brushed off the burden of being expected to improve Bury’s dire scoring record of four goals in 10 games so far this season.
“There’s a little bit of pressure, but I try not to think about that too much,” said the 26-year-old wideman. “I’ll just focus on my own game.
“I’ve been out for three or four weeks so it will come — my fitness will get better, my decision-making will get better and I think goals will definitely come from me.”
Reflecting on his assist for the leveller, Ruel added: “Sometimes you’ve got to have a little look up and change things up a little bit.
“I saw Remi (Garrett) make a run in, but Seb got there to score the goal that earned us a point.”
Bury made three changes to the side that lost 1-0 at Peacehaven and Telscombe on Saturday, including a debut for Ruel and a full debut for ex-Ipswich Wanderers front man Remi Garrett.
On-field captain Dunbar returned from a hamstring injury in place of Liam Wales, while right-back Miles Smith (holiday) was absent and John Kennedy dropped to the bench.
The two new Blues boys were immediately thrust into the action when Ruel slipped in Garrett, who could not guide the ball past the onrushing Louis Wells inside the opening seconds of the match.
With Justin Miller still absent with an ankle injury, the Blues opted to move to a 4-4-2 system and they looked the more likely to score, with two Ipswich Town academy products creating the hosts’ best chance of the first half.
A wonderful flowing move down the left looked to have broken down, but Callum Bennett whipped the ball back in from the right and Joe Whight rose at the back post to head it against the top of the left angle of post and crossbar.
Ruel fashioned himself a chance and nearly bent in the opening strike from 25 yards, but Leatherhead’s Stacey Long was instead the man to find the target from long range.
There were questions over whether Bury needed more men in the wall, but there still may have been little they could have done about the peach of a strike Long delivered from 30 yards past Marcus Garnham’s flailing right hand into the top left corner.
Garnham comfortably fielded a shot from Carl Rook as the half-time whistle approached, but centre-back Nathan Clarke would have been frustrated to guide his header from Whight’s outswinging left-wing corner into Wells’ midriff with the last action of the half.
Connor Hall was forced out of the game with a back problem three minutes into the second half and the loss of their star man seemed to knock Bury’s confidence.
Leatherhead created their one clear chance during this period when the Blues failed to clear a corner and Rook somehow thundered a shot against the crossbar from six yards with the goal at his mercy.
Visiting substitute Laurence Ball was fortunate to escape with a yellow card when he recklessly crashed into Ruel and Leatherhead’s attempts to shut the game down with time-wasting tactics appeared to be working until Bury finally got their break.
The impressive Ruel scooped a pass over the away side’s defence and left-back Dunbar showed more desire than anyone to get to the ball first and bundle it beyond Wells before wheeling away in an outpouring of relief and delight.
Belief and urgency flooded back into Bury’s attacking play, but they could not create the chance to turn their fifth draw of the season into their second win and as a result slipped into the Ryman Premier’s relegation zone.
“We thoroughly deserved the goal and should easily have had the three points,” said Dunbar. “It goes to show that working hard pays off — we’re so close to kicking on.”
Ruel added: “We worked well and I think we deserved more, but we’ll take the point — it’s better than nothing.
“We can push on and be confident because we scored, which is a plus after the loss at the weekend, and hopefully we can get a result in the FA Cup on Sunday.”