Canvey Island 0 Bury Town 1
by Derek Bish at Park Lane
ELLIOT Hunter hopes Bury Town’s 1-0 win at in-form Canvey Island on Tuesday can kick-start the Blues’ season.
The versatile player, who can operate across defence or in midfield, put in a man-of-the-match display alongside John Kennedy in a holding midfield role.
Danny Cunningham’s free-kick on the stroke of half-time handed the points to the Suffolk side against a Canvey Island outfit who entered the match on the back of five consecutive victories.
“We haven’t really had much luck at all in the first six games,” said Hunter.
“There was Kieran Leabon’s sending off at Wealdstone that wasn’t really a sending off, but the result against Canvey will hopefully kick-start our season.
“If we can get another victory in the FA Cup on Saturday, we will be well away.”
Hunter had to wait five matches for his chance before starting at left-back against Met Police on Saturday and moving into midfield in Essex on Tuesday.
“It was just about being patient,” he added. “Everyone is fighting for places, so it was about taking my chance when I got it, whatever position it may be.”
Bury made one change to the side that lost to Met Police on Saturday, with Mark Coulson replacing the injured Kieran Leabon (back), allowing Hunter to move into midfield.
The Blues were by far the better team in the first half, but goalkeeper Marcus Garnham was lucky Hunter was on hand to tidy up after his clearance went straight to Canvey’s Leon Gordon.
Sam Reed fired straight at home custodian James Russell and then arrowed a 20-yard strike just beyond the far right angle of the Canvey goal.
Lee Reed should have put the visitors in front, but could only blaze over after Gulls legend John Kennedy had headed the ball into his former employers’ penalty area.
When Russell clawed the ball away after Lee Reed connected with Danny Cunningham’s cross, it appeared Bury would not have anything to show for their dominance, until they struck right on the stroke of half-time.
Sam Reed was hauled down on the edge of the Canvey penalty area and Cunningham took one pace before curling an unstoppable free-kick into the top left-hand corner past an outstretched Russell.
The Gulls were much improved after the break and Garnham had to scramble the ball away after Danny Heale beat Tom Bullard to Danny Kerrigan’s low cross.
And any hope the Park Lane outfit had of getting back into the match appeared to evaporate with two key decisions by referee Paul Kelly within 60 seconds of one another.
The Gulls were certain Hunter had blocked Rob King’s powerful effort on the line with his hand, but their protests were waved away.
As the Blues broke, Kelly blew his whistle and issued a red card to John Easterford for colliding with the official as he retreated to fend off Bury’s attack – an act the referee deemed was deliberate.
Despite having the extra man, Bury were under the cosh for the final 20 minutes, but Hunter and Bullard kept Canvey at bay with a series of blocks and headers, leaving Garnham untested in the closing stages.