Harrow Borough 3
Bury Town 1
Ben Chenery warned his players he cannot keep ‘protecting’ them after the Blues crashed at Harrow Borough on Tuesday.
The defeat at their relegation rivals means the Blues must get a positive result at home to high-flying Hendon tomorrow (3pm) to avoid being cut adrift in the Ryman League Premier Division relegation zone.
Dreadful defending cost Bury in their six-pointer at Earlsmead and manager Chenery was fuming with his backline after the game.
“Members of the back four hid at times and weren’t accountable,” said Chenery. “They didn’t want to get hurt or stick their head above the parapet and be a defender.
“That disappointed me because going forward we were a real threat and scored a great goal through Jordan (Patrick), as well as having other opportunities to score.
“You can’t defend like we did in this league though — you could hear a penny drop in our back four apart from our 20-year-old goalkeeper who has been here a couple of weeks and not even settled in yet.
“The back four do not say a word to each other — that’s evident and frightening.
“I’ve got a lot of work to do with them.”
Chenery and his players shared their views in a heated discussion at the end of the game and the Blues’ boss — who will be missing Callum Bennett and Miles Smith through suspension — now expects them to stand up and be counted.
“It’s a turning point for a few of them and they are either going to sink or they’re going to swim,” he said. “As bad as they have done defensively, there are some honest people in the dressing room and you can see in the eyes of a few of them that it really does hurt.
“It’s now about whether or not they have the gumption and the ability to change it.
“Some of them are young and naïve — I have to protect them and take the pressure off at times and put it elsewhere.
“But I can’t keep protecting them and spinning out the same old lines.”
Bury Town made two changes to the starting XI from the 2-0 loss to Hampton and Richmond Borough 10 days earlier — one enforced.
Phill Weavers returned to central midfield in place of injured Ipswich Town loanee Jack Willbye (knee) — who hopes to be back tomorrow — while Chenery opted to replace Chris Benjamin with Kye Ruel.
Harrow had the better of the early exchanges as Bury struggled to get into the game and Alex Archer kept Marc Charles-Smith out at his near right-hand post in the second minute.
The left boot of Jake Gilbert rustled the side netting before finding the top of the crossbar from 25 yards as Chenery became increasingly frustrated on the touchline.
The visitors improved as the half went on though and Joe Benjamin and Phill Weavers both fired narrowly wide before the former found the hands of goalkeeper Nicky Jupp.
However, just as Bury looked to be on top, a piece of misfortune gifted Harrow the opener.
Connor Hall put in a tough tackle on the halfway line, but the ball broke to Michael Bryan, who had space to run into and time to slide the ball under the advancing Archer.
Charles-Smith tested Archer again, but Bury were undeterred by the setback and levelled in the final minute of the half through Patrick’s brilliant individual strike.
The former Cambridge United winger picked the ball up on the right touchline, opted not to cross and instead moved the ball past Julian Smith on to his left foot before unleashing a peach of a drive that nestled in the far top corner.
However, all Patrick’s good work was undone two minutes into first-half stoppage time when Hall tripped Charles-Smith, who confidently stroked the resultant penalty into the bottom right corner.
Bury never looked like coming back from that and Miles Smith was fortunate not to concede a penalty nine minutes into the second half when the ball bounced up on to his hand.
However, Harrow sealed the result midway through the second period when Bryan jinked his way into the box, drew out Archer and squared the ball for Jerome Walker to sidefoot it into the unguarded net.