Bury Town 1
Charlton Athletic 2
by Derek Bish at Ram Meadow
FORMER Premier League manager Paul Hart was full of praise for Bury Town and ex-Blues goalkeeper Nick Pope after Charlton Athletic’s 2-1 success at Ram Meadow on Tuesday.
Hart, now the academy director at the npower Championship Addicks, was happy with the test Bury provided his young development squad.
The Londoners took the lead midway through the first half through Ade Azeez and although John Sands equalised 20 minutes from time, Joe Piggott’s late penalty saw the visitors take the spoils.
“I thought Bury were a really good side,” said Hart, who managed Portsmouth in the Premier League. “They played football and it was a great test for our boys.”
Ruben Bover should have opened the scoring in the 16th minute when running through and clipping a shot wide, but they only had to wait another 120 seconds for the opening goal.
Garnham also denied Piggott at full stretch, but could do nothing to stop Azeez latching on to Paul Hayes’ throughball and tucking the ball home into an empty net.
In reply, Billy Clark forced visiting goalkeeper Dillon Phillips into a flying save with a curling effort before – the other side of the break – Callum Kearns stung the hands of the young Charlton stopper.
And the Blues levelled when Sands spread the ball to Mark Coulson on the left-hand side and raced into the penalty area to connect with the left-wing-back’s cross and power his header into the roof of the net.
Sands was cleaned out by Phillips and probably would have seen red in a competitive game, but the referee’s leniency allowed him to get back on his feet and make a smart stop from Clark’s low free-kick.
However, Charlton struck the decisive blow eight minutes from time when Ashley Sloots felled Tobi Sho-Silva in the penalty area and Piggott sent substitute goalkeeper Will Viner the wrong way.
Bury manager Richard Wilkins said: “It was a great workout for us because we won’t come up against a team as fit as that.
“I thought we handled it really well, apart from a five-minute panic just after they scored.
“But we grew into it and I thought we were excellent.”
Former Bury custodian Pope was in the stands to watch the clash between his current team and his former employers.
Speaking about Pope, Hart said: “I think he’s done very well and it’s a tragedy he’s got an injury at this stage of the season.
“But he’ll recover and will be back involved — he’s made tremendous progress.
“He’s got diligence, has worked hard and learns. I know our head goalkeeping coach Ben Roberts is extremely pleased with him.”
Bury: Garnham (Viner 63), Short, Hall (Weavers 77), Kennedy (Key 63), Nunn (Hitching 63), Bullard, Clark (Ingram 73), Kearns (Souza 77), S Reed (Werndly 73), L Reed (Sands 57), Coulson (Sloots 77).