DIVISION ONE NORTH
Bury Town 0
Phoenix Sports 0
Ollie Hughes paid tribute to Bury Town’s fighting spirit as the under-strength Blues extended their unbeaten run in a goalless draw on Saturday.
In blustery conditions at Ram Meadow, a rather forgettable encounter saw both sides enjoy periods of prolonged possession with neither able to find that decisive breakthrough as two teams settled for a point apiece.
However, with Bury currently nursing a long injury list, including a host of senior players such as Bradley Barber, Sam Reed, Remi Garrett, Justin Miller and Connor Hall, Hughes paid particular praise to the squads togetherness as they stretched their unbeaten run to four matches.
“Before the game I think we would have taken a clean sheet and then anything else is a bonus with the number of players missing we have at the moment,” he said.
“In the second-half we had four or five of the senior players carrying knocks and not being able to make changes because the depth in the squad isn’t there at the moment with our growing injury list.
“There is a real togetherness in the squad and I think people can see and appreciate that.
“We are all working together and I think it is that doggedness that has been getting us results lately.
“I don’t think you can fault the effort or commitment of the squad right now, especially the younger lads who have done themselves proud.
“At this level, a high work ethic and strong togetherness can give you a top half finish at the minimum, it is then about that little bit of quality that will push you into the play-offs.”
It was the visitors who started the brightest with the lively Christie Pattison bursting beyond the Bury backline only for the alert Neil O’Sullivan to race off his and block the attempt on goal at the forward’s feet.
Pattison again called O’Sullivan into a smart save in the sixth minute, before the visitors spurned another opportunity 12 minutes later with Alistair Gordon volleyed an effort over the bar from the edge of the area after the hosts failed to clear their lines.
The momentum continued with the home side and again it was the trickery of Pattison which created an opening in the 21st minute as he skipped pat Matthew Skevington but could only drag his right-footed effort past O’Sullivan’s left-hand post.
The home side grew into the half with Daniel Hammett dragging their first opportunity wide of the left upright on the turn from the edge of the area in the 27th minute, while a the other end, O’Sullivan had be alert again to hold on to a goal bound effort from Gordon following good work down the left from Pattison.
The home side were enjoying some success from Darcy De’ath’s long throws with one such delivery seeing Josh Mayhew denied well by a smart instinctive save from Oshane Brown from inside the six-yard box.
With seconds remaining in the opening 45 minutes, Bury came inches away from breaking the deadlock as Nick Ingram’s first time effort, from a driven Ollie Canfer cross from the right, clipped the crossbar on the way over Brown’s goal.
With the second just a minute old, the visitors came agonisingly close to opening the scoring as Gordon’s close-range effort was brilliantly turned on to the post by O’Sullivan low to his right to keep the score goalless.
The London-based side then went inches close to scoring again 10 minutes later as Adrian Stone could only watch on as his brilliant chest and volleyed effort whistled narrowly past the helpless O’Sullivan’s post.
The home custodian was called into action again in the 78th minute to hold on to Chris Hill’s close range goal bound header, before moments later racing off his line once again to brilliantly deny substitute Steve Jerome, blocking the ball at the striker’s feet after he had beaten the offside trap.
Hill then spurned another opening with five minutes remaining, heading over under pressure from three-yards out after Giannoulis Fakinos’ cross from the right-hand side somehow travelled all the way across Bury’s goalmouth.
And with the match heading into injury time, Josh Mayhew squandered arguably the chance of the match, slicing wide from inside the area after brilliant work down the left-hand side by the industrious Ollie Hughes as the sides settled for a point apiece.
Bury Town: O’Sullivan, Skevington, Allen, Collins, De’ath, Weavers, Ingram (Yallop 66), Canfer, Hughes Mayhew, Hammett (Nurse 50)
Substitutes not used: John Kennedy, Joe White.
Free Press man of the match: Ollie Hughes. The striker ever stopped running and proved a constant nuisance to the Pheonix Sports defence throughout.