Bury Town have announced they are to slash their budget for the remainder of the season after accepting relegation is inevitable.
The Blues produced arguably their poorest home performance of the season on Saturday as they were crushed 4-1 by relegation rivals AFC Hornchurch, prompting the board to take action and save cash for the next campaign in Ryman One North.
Strikers and cousins Chris and Joe Benjamin — who have netted just three goals between them all season — are the first two players to depart, while loanee Michael Bakare is not expected to return once he is fit again either.
In a club statement, chairman Russell Ward said the board felt the Blues — 11 points adrift of safety with nine matches to play — were unable to retain their Ryman Premier status.
He added: “The decision to cut the budget will mean the inevitable departure of some players and we thank them for their efforts, but the remaining games of this season will give Ben and Christian (Appleford, assistant manager) the chance to try others and start to form a squad earlier than normal.
“Some current players have agreed to stay on for reduced terms and some for free, and again the board would like to thank those for their commitment to Bury Town.”
Boss Chenery — who will now look to blood youngsters such as Tanner Call, Ryan Jolland, Joe White and David Lampshire for the remainder of the season — said the budget decision was ‘wise’.
He added: “It’s important we put some good foundations in place, so next season we start producing footballers from the area who we can make better.”
Chenery conceded this season had ‘been the hardest time’ of his career and said it would take a ‘monumental’ effort to return to the Ryman Premier at the first attempt.
He will remain in charge next season despite a backlash from supporters on social media and the Blues’ fans’ forum, which prompted Connor Hall to stand up for his boss on Twitter.
Chenery has had his hands tied to a certain extent by Bury’s financial position , but fans feel a lot of the blame lies at the former Cambridge United player’s door.
On the Blues’ fans’ forum, Igor Blimey commented: “Our manager is not just up to the task.”
Springfield added: “I’ve seen nothing this season to suggest he can build a team to challenge in the league below.”
But it was a post from Jamie Crouch (@JCrouch16) on Twitter that prompted midfielder Hall to come out fighting for his manager.
Crouch Tweeted: “Words can’t describe how bad @BuryTownFC were today. Ben Chenery looks completely out of his depth. Time for a change.”
To which Hall replied: “It ain’t Chenners! Us players have to take the blame! Too many times we’ve let him down...”
He went on to add another six messages, one which stated: “I am one that hopes Chenners is there next season. Us players should be ashamed not him.”
It was no surprise Saturday’s defeat to Hornchurch fuelled such anger from the Ram Meadow faithful as the second highest home attendance of the season — 390 — watched their side outclassed by relegation rivals Hornchurch in the first half.
Phill Weavers swung wildly at an awkward, bouncing ball and Kieran Bishop pounced to put them in front in the fifth minute.
Hall tried his luck from distance in a rare Bury attack, but only found the gloves of goalkeeper Sam Mott diving away to his left, and the Blues were in deep trouble shortly after as Hornchurch doubled their advantage in the 19th minute.
Jordan Patrick was too weak when attempting to gather the ball with his back to goal and the visitors broke at pace down the right, with Junior Luke sending over a low cross for George Purcell to provide the killer touch by drilling home from eight yards.
However, after being on the backfoot for long spells, the Blues surprisingly pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time.
Patrick was allowed to get to the by-line on the left and his dinked cross was met by Nurse’s scissor-kick, which sent the ball bouncing into the net.
Bury had somehow grabbed the initiative and pushed for a leveller, but a defensive calamity cost them dearly.
Seb Dunbar’s backpass put Alex Archer in all sorts of trouble and the goalkeeper could only stab the ball to ex-Bury loanee Nnamdi Nwachuku, who fired into the empty net, before Purcell completed Bury’s misery.
* Bury Town Ladies’ Charlotte Osborne, Helen Cryer and Laura Brown have been selected for Suffolk Ladies’ East Anglian Counties Championship match with Cambridgeshire at Ely City’s Unwin Ground on Thursday (7.30pm).
Bury Town SuperDraw week 40 results: £1,000 Peter Moore; £150 Peter Ryan; £100 B Pickett; £75 L Darlington; £50 M Laplanche, S Whitefield; £25 Mr Davies, Mr Wright, Mr Driver, S Trollope. Birth date: 29/04/89. No winners. Next week’s prize: £200.