Bury Town 2 Lewes 1
Allicion Blake hopes to have kick-started his Bury Town career after playing a starring role on his first league start since September 1.
The former Ipswich trainee may not have got on the scoresheet, but he was the man of the match as the Blues returned to winning ways courtesy of Dan Hitching’s 83rd-minute winner.
Earlier, Karl Beckford’s thunderous strike had cancelled out Lee Reed’s opener in a much-improved display from Bury, with striker Blake linking up the play superbly.
“It’s been a nightmare going off to play for Woodbridge and then coming back knowing you are not instantly going to get a start because you have missed games,” said the forward, whose Bury career has yet to get off the ground due to being cup-tied for the FA Cup, having appeared in the competition for dual registration club Woodbridge earlier in the campaign.
“I’m starting to feel sharp now though — I felt I did well against Needham and then again against Lewes, where I was unlucky not to score.”
After three matches without a win in the league, it took Bury — whose only change from their 3-1 reverse at home to Whitehawk the previous Saturday was to replace Evan Key with Blake — just 69 seconds to reignite their promotion claims.
Craig Parker drew a defender in before slipping the ball into the path of an off-balance Lee Reed, who calmly steered the ball beyond visiting goalkeeper Kieran Thorp with his left foot while falling to the ground.
Although the opening exchanges were end-to-end, Lewes failed to seriously test Marcus Garnham, while John Sands should have doubled the Blues’ advantage, but took one touch too many, allowing Thorp to block when one-on-one.
Bury had control of the first half, but twice Ben Godfrey fired a warning, swivelling and volleying against the post before forcing Garnham into a full-stretch save that referee Jonathan Block bizarrely gave as a goal-kick when the home stopper had clearly got a firm palm to the ball.
Blake released Sands with a clever ball over the top, but the ex-Mildenhall striker could only lob into the arms of Thorp, before Lee Reed also found the frame of the visiting number one on two occasions the other side of the interval.
Bury’s inability to double their lead looked like it would cost them when Beckford was afforded too much time on the edge of the penalty area and he picked his spot before finishing with aplomb into a static Garnham’s bottom left-hand corner.
Both sides appeared to be running out of ideas and steam until Lee Reed’s deep right-wing corner was headed into the six-yard box by Sam Nunn and hooked home by Hitching, despite the young defender being manhandled to the ground.
Blake showed wonderful skill when beating three men in the closing stages, and although the fourth blocked him it still took a terrific save from Thorp to keep out Parker’s stunning follow-up volley.
Bury: Garnham 7, Short 7, Coulson 7, Kennedy 7, Nunn 7, Hitching 7, Patrick 7, Parker 7, Sands 6 (Sam Reed 71, 6), Lee Reed 7, BLAKE 7. Subs not used: Weavers, Flavin, Rossis.
n Bury Town Football Club SuperDraw Week 23: £1,000 Mr J Lloyd T6921; £150 Miss N Brittain N3799; £100 Mrs C Rowe E4538; £75 Mr J Cook A8595; £50 Ms K Graham O0519; Mrs M Young J8919; £25 Mr B McMath E9227; Miss A Tillman O4243; Mrs S Kerr AB5384; Ms C Moreton N4902.
The birth date drawn this week was 18-06-96 but there were no winners so next week’s prize will be £200.
Week 24: £1,000 Mr P Strickland AA7346; £150 Mr S Gaskell AC5199; £100 Mrs K Doody E5681; £75 Mrs B Stokes C6214; £5 Mr D Barton B2223; Mrs F Russell W3341; £25 Mrs D Annis O3346; Mr M Russell P4257; Mrs J Harris C0240; I Leigh K5444.
The birth date drawn was 20-02-84 but there were no winners. Next week’s prize will be £300.