FA TROPHY SECOND ROUND OF QUALIFYING
Bury Town 1 Herne Bay 1
(Bury win replay 4-3 on penalties - FT score 1-1)
After scoring one of the most dramatic goals ever seen at the Ram, Craig Nurse believes it was Bury’s destiny to defy the odds and progress in the FA Trophy in Tuesday’s replay.
A controversial red card in the 90th minute for Neil O’Sullivan saw Nurse move from midfield to between the sticks, before going up for a 95th minute corner, shanking in what proved to be the equaliser to keep them alive on the road to Wembley.
The squad were rewarded for eventually winning through in Kent, despite missing six senior players through injury and suspension, by getting last night off training.
And for Nurse, who would likely have been playing for his dual registered lower league club Newmarket Town had the injury crisis not hit Bury — the rest was very much needed, both physically and mentally after a whirlwind week that saw him making headlines nationally on the BBC.
“When I scored I just didn’t know what to do,” said Nurse. “I just thought ‘run as fast as you can and get away from everyone!’ I have never had an experience like that.
“I was then more worried about how long was left as I didn’t want to concede.”
The player who often goes in goal in five-a-side in training, with the club now only having one keeper since Nick Punter went on loan to Stanway Rovers, added: “When Chenners called me up I thought ‘just get something on the ball’. I did slip and I wasn’t sure if I was thinking car park or goal, but luckily I scuffed it and it took it into the bottom corner and with so many bodies in there I was just thankful it trickled in.”
Nurse said Tuesday’s replay had quickly left those fit enough to play wondering if it had all been worth getting there when they went 1-0 down to a Liam Quinn header from a corner on 14 minutes.
But after the player who returned to Bury from Mildenhall Town joined the long injury-list by leaving the action after half-an-hour with an ankle problem, Bury eventually broke down the door shortly before the hour mark with youngster Matty Collins finishing a move made at West Suffolk College, involving class-mates Alfie Bedingham and Dan Hammett, to level with his first senior goal.
Herne Bay were reduced to 10 men on 67 minutes when last man Gary Sayer was sent off, after picking up a straight red for a foul on Ollie Hughes.
There was late drama again in the 94th minute as Bury finally converted one of their many chances, only for it to be ruled offside in a very tight call made by the referee’s assistant.
With the shootout level at 3-3 after five spot kicks each, Neil O’Sullivan saved Herne Bay’s first sudden death penalty and captain Phil Weavers hit the net with his to win the tie for Bury and set up a home tie with fellow Ryman League Division One North outfit Thurrock next Saturday (3pm).
“With the bodies we had available on Tuesday it was a phenomenal result,” said Nurse.
“When it went to penalties Chenners and Christian (manager Ben Chenery and assistant Christian Appleford) told us that after everything we had come through — including Saturday’s rain and Tuesday’s wind and fireworks going off like I’ve never seen at football before — that it was going to be our day, and maybe it was our destiny.”
On Saturday Nurses’ converted corner had kept the Blues’ FA Trophy hopes alive, following captain Liam Quinn’s 47th minute header.
Bury were boosted ahead of kick-off by the news three of their four injury doubts in the week were fit to start, but Noel Aitkens, Sam Reed and Remi Garrett all suffered for playing, while Ollie Canfer had been cup tied.
A teenage West Suffolk College quintet made up the substitutes bench on Saturday in Bedingham, Collins, Hammett, Cameron Nicholls and Joe White.
A minute’s silence for the victims of Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris was well observed by the players and the club’s second biggest crowd of the season (316) ahead of kick-off.
After a slow start in the driving rain, Bury had the best chances to have broke the deadlock as the sides, who play in equivalent divisions of the Ryman League, went in without a goal to show for their efforts.
After Bury were caught out at a corner shortly after the re-start, with Quinn putting his side ahead, it was left to the late drama to set up a replay in dramatic fashion.
Bury: O’Sullivan, Allen, Paterson, Kennedy, De’ath, Weavers (c), Garrett, Nurse, Hughes, Aitkens, Reed. Unused substitutes: Bedingham, White. Attendance: 316.
Free Press Man of The Match: Craig Nurse. Will be a cult hero at Ram Meadow for years to come for his dramatic late leveller in the keeper’s jersey. His girlfriend Toni Halls never gets to see him due to work, but she will have been mightily glad she was able to get in at half-time to see his magic moment.