DIVISION ONE NORTH
Bury Town 2
Norwich United 3
Bury Town let three precious points in their play-off push slip through their fingers as they ended up handing manager Ben Chenery a very unwanted 40th birthday present.
With The Blues having recovered well to an early setback to lead 2-1 with goals from Andrew Cusack and a stunner from Josh Mayhew either side of the break, prolific former Leiston striker Christy Finch took full advantage of two individual errors Chenery later said he could not legislate for, to complete a hat-trick and make himself the Bury boss’ party pooper.
The result saw Bury drop one place to ninth and go from one point from the top five to four.
“I thought we excellent, but I said to the lads that although we deserved more you have to negotiate wins and that was the key thing for us today,” said Chenery soon after the final whistle.
“Everything was good but then we committed those errors and that is really frustrating for me as a manager, because I can’t affect that and I can’t coach it.
“You could argue that I could get people who wouldn’t do it, but we are where we are.
“It was a really frustrating day for me, but the positives were that we played them off the park and we were excellent. Now we’ve got to replicate that from now until the end of the season.”
The Blues, who had gone into the match on the back of two away defeats and an enforced break — following two weather-forced postponements — had hoped to have prolific striker Ollie Hughes and recent experienced midfield addition Leon Ottley-Gooch back from injury, but both were only fit enough for the bench. Meanwhile, regular defender Darcy De’ath was absent through illness. The latter enforced change saw three out of the back four as teenagers, and it was to show.
Mayhew’s early acrobatic effort failed to trouble Norwich’s goalkeeper Andrew Wilton before Finch put the 12th place visitors (four places and three points below Bury at kick-off) into the lead in the 12th minute.
There was a big suspicion of offside as Adam Hipperson’s effort deflected perfectly into his path through a crowded box, following a Jamie Speller left-sided corner.
But with the officials later confirming Ryan Jolland was playing the striker on, Bury’s protests were in vain as an appealing defence stood still and Finch steadied himself before firing beyond Neil O’Sullivan.
Clements went close to an equaliser four minutes later with a header that dropped just over the crossbar and rolled down the back of the net.
Tevan Allen’s thunderbolt from the edge of the area, following a corner, was deflected wide while the right-back was soon busy at the other end, making a crucial sliding block in the penalty box, denying Hipperson.
The next goalmouth action saw Bury deservedly get back on terms when Cusack was left with a simple far post finish 10 minutes from the break when Wilton could only parry Ryan Jolland’s lofted effort into his path.
Mayhew went close with a chipped effort from outside the area before the striker was denied by a smart block in the box.
The half ended with Hipperson sending a free-kick fizzing not far wide of O’Sullivan’s left-hand post.
Three minutes were not even completed in the second half before Bury took the lead with Mayhew’s fantastic dipping volley from Luke Read’s lofted pass beating Wilton, off his line, all ends up.
But The Blues, despite creating plenty more chances, lost the game as much at their own end as their opponent’s.
After Tim Henery’s dinked effort landed on the top of the bar, O’Sullivan was soon saving at his near post from the same player.
Norwich substitute Nathan Stewart almost made an instant impact when he ran through on the right-hand side and rounded O’Sullivan, but he could only find the side-netting.
Down the other end Remi Garrett’s shot was blocked by the legs of Wilton.
The equaliser came in the 70th minute when Allen was guilty of getting the wrong side of Fitch and the striker was able to have the time to bring down Speller’s cross before dispatching past O’Sullivan.
The next goal was crucial and it was handed on a plate to Norwich in the 79th minute.
Barber, looking to take on a second man in the midfield, was caught out as he was robbed of possession, and from the ensuing three-on-three Speller played in Finch whose lofted angled shot made it over the line, despite O’Sullivan coming off his line to get a hand to it.
Aitkens and Garrett were both denied an equaliser before Norwich were reduced to 10 men when Andrew Eastaugh, brother of Planters’ manager Steve Eastaugh, was given his marching orders for a second yellow card after a late challenge on Garrett in the 91st minute.
But despite three more minutes providing a frantic finale, including Hughes seeing an effort pushed away, Bury could not find the equaliser their superior possession and efforts at goal had warranted.
Trips to relegation-threatened Waltham Abbey and Ware follow over the next two weekends, with Chenery under no doubt what they need.
“If you have any aspirations of the play-offs, you have got to win them,” he said.