Battling Blues praised after holding leaders

HEATED AFFAIR: Referee Colin Reeve attempts to regain control as both sets of players have a coming together
HEATED AFFAIR: Referee Colin Reeve attempts to regain control as both sets of players have a coming together
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Bury Town 1 Billericay Town 1

BURY TOWN manager Richard Wilkins praised his side’s battling defensive qualities after they claimed a hard fought point against table toppers Billericay Town at Ram Meadow on Monday.

After an even first half in which Sam Reed’s 19th minute opener for the Blues was cancelled out by Jay May six minutes before the interval, Bury had to withstand strong pressure from Billericay for a prolonged period as the visitors looked to capitalise on their obvious height advantage with a direct approach.

However, the hosts stood firm to claim a deserved share of the spoils, leaving Wilkins satisfied with the manner of the result.

“It probably was a fair point overall,” he said.

“I thought we dealt well with all their direct long throws and corners because it was clear to see to a man they were three inches taller than us all over the pitch.

“I was pleased with the point because it was a physical approach from them and we had to deal with that, it was always going to be a tough test but we played well.

“It was down to us to combat their direct approach and on the whole I think we did that.

“I can’t criticise the players for their efforts and it bodes well for the upcoming fixtures.”

The hosts started brightly and after missing a number of early opportunities, snatched the lead after 19 minutes through Reed.

Left-back Mark Coulson and Kieran Leabon were involved in some neat interchange which saw the defender force his way into the area before seeing his stinging left foot strike parried by visiting custodian Dale Brightly, for Reed to swoop in and head home into an empty net.

Billericay responded and should have grabbed an equaliser 10 minutes later but Rob Swaine failed to capitalise on a golden opportunity as he headed Dave Collis’ deep free kick straight at Marcus Garnham.

However, the visitors would not have to wait long to draw level as just seven minutes later May seized on slack defending to muscle his way onto Greg Oate’s long ball into the box, before thumping a low right foot shot past Garnham, to take the sides in level at the break.

The equaliser appeared to give the visitors the momentum to go on and add to their goal tally after the interval as they began to launch prolonged periods of pressure on the Bury defence.

The visitor’s dominance almost resulted in another goal in the 65th minute, and would have done so if not for the agility of Garnham.

Swaine flicked on Sam Berry’s corner from the right and with Emeka Onwubiko’s volley inside the area looking destined to hit the back of the net, Garnham somehow reacted to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Despite the onslaught, Bury could have grabbed the lead against the run of play with ten minutes remaining.

Billy Clark, beat three players on the left hand side before releasing Leabon beyond the Billericay defence. But despite having better options for a cut back in the area, the striker opted to try for goal, firing a left foot shot wildly over, wasting the opportunity.

This led to a final 10-minute spell of desperate defending by the hosts as Billericay continued their direct approach firing long punts into the area.

Again the pressure almost brought rewards for the visitors but Berry fired a partially cleared cross over the bar from inside the area, spurning his side’s final chance in the dying seconds, as Bury’s resilient defence held on for a hard fought point.