Danny Cunningham put a smile back on the faces of Bury Town fans — then admitted it would be the first time in a while he would enjoy Sunday.
The attacking midfielder had a hand in both goals as the Blues deservedly saw off promotion-chasing Bognor Regis Town to earn their first three-point haul in the Ryman League Premier Division in more than two months.
With the day designated to celebrate the club’s new three-year sponsorship with Bury St Edmunds-based brewing giant Greene King, the festivities being enjoyed by the Suffolk side’s third highest attendance of the season carried over on to the pitch to Cunningham and his teammates.
“I’m actually happy for the first time in a while,” admitted man-of-the-match Cunningham. “The lads put a shift in after we had a chat on Thursday about how we need to play.
“We had a gameplan and we stuck to it — if one person pressed, then another went and another and another and so on.
“When we did that, they gave the ball away because it’s very hard to play football on this pitch.
“A win means I’ll wake up smiling for when I go out with the family.
“It brings a lift to the lads — when you’ve been losing, heads go down, so when you get a win like that it picks everyone up and we’ll head into the next game confident and thinking we’re going to win.
“That is the minimum standard now as to how we should be playing every game.”
Bury made three changes to the side that started the previous Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to Kingstonian, with Liam Wales and the fit-again Cunningham restored to the starting XI, while Colchester United loanee Billy Roast partnered Tom Bullard at the heart of the Blues’ defence on debut.
Joe Whight was ill and Jack Brame on Walsham-le-Willows duty so they exited the team, while Callum Bennett dropped to the bench.
Wales was a whisker away from ending Bury’s goal drought when his thumping diving header from Jordan Patrick’s left-wing cross struck the foot of the near post.
The young winger, playing the final game before starting a three-match ban for his controversial sending off at Hampton and Richmond Borough, also found the hands of visiting custodian Grant Smith after Seb Dunbar had driven forward from left-back, swapped passes with Nnamdi Nwachuku and played Wales in.
When it arrived, Bury’s first goal in five matches would go down as one of the more bizarre they have netted this season.
There was nothing wrong with Nwachuku’s calmly-taken penalty which sent Smith the wrong way from 12 yards, but the incident that led to its award was entirely preventable from a Bognor perspective.
Defender Stuart Axten beat Cunningham to Nwachuku’s right-wing cross, but remained on top of the Bury player for several seconds after, pinning him to the turf.
Buoyed by the goal and led by a vociferous Cunningham — who was orchestrating the best attacking play seen at Ram Meadow in several weeks — the hosts kept up the pressure and Bognor’s passing game rapidly deteriorated as Ross Bailey, John Kennedy and Cunningham hassled and harried them in midfield.
Doug Tuck and Aaron Hopkinson were off target as Bognor began the second half brighter than they had been during the entire opening 45 minutes, but that was punctured by Bury’s second goal in the 58th minute.
Cunningham produced a wicked inswinging cross from out of nowhere on the right-hand side and Patrick met the ball at full speed to bury his header high into the net past a helpless Smith.
Bognor’s Terry Dodd screwed his shot wide after latching on to a poor clearance by an otherwise-untroubled Marcus Garnham, while they were outraged when no penalty was awarded for an apparent trip on Craig Robson 13 minutes from time.
Although less dominant in the second half, there was still time for Nwachuku to have a goal ruled out for offside, while Bognor’s best chance arrived deep into stoppage time when Oliver Pearce sliced over from six yards.
n Bury were hoping to carry that form into last night’s fixture at Hendon — log on to www.buryfreepress.co.uk/sport/football/bury-town to find out how the Blues got on.
n The Blues are set for two tough away trips in the next week — they visit Kingstonian tomorrow (3pm) and Dulwich Hamlet on Tuesday (7.45pm).
n SuperDraw week 43: £1,000 D Nicholas; £150 P Murphy; £100 M Bird; £75 M Rosher; £50 M Meah, Mrs Smallman; £25 C Baker, C Coram, J Dawkins, Knibbs. Birth date drawn: 23/11/38 — the £200 jackpot was split between Mr Ovenden and Mr Dubberly. Next week: £100.