DIVISION ONE NORTH
Bury Town 2
Waltham Abbey 1
Bury’s playing captain Bradley Barber hopes to lead by example rather than being a vocal presence in his new role, like he did throughout this opening day win.
The 30-year-old rose to the occasion of leading the side on the pitch by having a hand in both goals, including scoring the second-half winner, as Bury came from behind to get their 2016/17 off to a winning start on Saturday.
Waltham Abbey, who finished a place above the relegation zone last season, had taken the lead from the penalty spot 31 minutes in when Ryan Blackman converted after Blues’ debutant Andrew Cusasck had put in a clumsy challenge.
But Bury went into the break level after a goalkeeping error saw Ollie Hughes gobble up a rebound after Barber’s free-kick caused mayhem.
Barber himself, revealed as the Blues’ new playing captain with last year’s incumbent Phil Weavers now club captain, then kept his cool to slide the hosts into a 56th-minute lead they did not relinquish in a dominant second period.
“It was obviously a poor start going 1-0 down, especially to a penalty,” he said.
“To start with we were a bit lumbered but we got a bit of luck with the goal and in the second half I thought we fully deserved it.”
The ex-Needham Market midfielder, who joined from Felixstowe & Walton United ahead of last season, is hoping plenty of encouragement as well as his own displays can help bring the best out of the team in his captain’s role.
“There is a few good youngsters here and I think with the right attitude they can go a long way,” he said.
“I’m all about encouragement and trying to lead by example. I am not going to be the one getting in people’s faces and screaming.
“I will just try and encourage people to play with the football. I like to play the right way and get the ball on the deck and try and carve teams open. Hopefully it is something we can do a lot more of.”
Barber himself will be looking to stay injury free after a slipped disc in his back caused him to miss five months of last season and struggle through the end of the campaign. But he is confident he can manage the problem through an exercise routine.
Bury boss Ben Chenery named three summer signings in his starting line-up with Dan Heath winning the race for the goalkeeper’s starting jersey, while ex-Norwich United man Cusack started at left-back and youngster Kryan Clements, on a season-long loan from AFC Sudbury, partnered Weavers at the back.
International clearance not coming through yet meant there was no place in the matchday squad for their other new signing, defender or midfielder Tom Debenham, who had joined after having completed a football scholarship in the USA. A prior commitment meant that striker Sam Reed was unavailable, while veteran Justin Miller will not be available until after the first three weeks.
With the new clubhouse yet to be finished there was a healthy-looking crowd enjoying the outside bar and BBQ.
Bury, playing a 4-4-2 diamond formation, enjoyed the best of the chances in the first half but went behind after Cusack’s poorly-timed challenge gave away a penalty from which Blackman found the bottom left corner.
The Blues got the equaliser their probing had deserved following a 42nd-minute free-kick.
After Hughes had been fouled just outside the area, Barber’s shot cannoned off the wall, and after Remi Garrett pounced on it Anthony Page saved before spilling out with Hughes on hand to stab home.
The second half saw the hosts gain full control with Barber putting his side into the lead after a smart throughball from Tevan Allen.
Bury were unable to add to their lead and had to survive a rare scare when Yemi Avelani failed to connect properly with a free header, but in the end they were good value for all three points.
BURY: Heath, Allen, Cusack, Aitkens, Weavers, Clements, Garrett (Jolland 73), Mayhew (Kennedy 85), Hughes, Barber (De’ath 90+5), Canfer. Unused subs: O’Sullivan.
Free Press Man of The Match. Bradley Barber. Shone in new captain’s role.
n Bury followed up Saturday’s win by coming from behind again to register a 3-2 victory at Witham Town on Tuesday, writes John Alcock.
After Nathan Korenteng turned in a cross unmarked at the far post 15 minutes in, the Blues levelled in the 27th minute when Josh Mayhew headed home Ollie Hughes’ flick-on.
Hughes himself put them ahead six minutes later, finding the top corner after beating his man.
It was 3-1 just before the interval when the referee’s assistant spotted Mayhew’s low shot from Barber’s corner had been cleared after it had crossed the line.
Witham pulled a goal back on the hour mark through Korenteng, again unmarked, but Bury stood firm to the hosts’ pressure to register back-to-back wins.
BURY: Heath, Allen, Cusack, Aitkens, Weavers, Clements, Garrett, Mayhew (De’ath 79), Hughes, Barber (Kennedy 70), Reed (Jolland 52).
Free Press Man of The Match: Ollie Hughes.