John Kennedy has praised the reaction of the Bury Town players after they delivered on their promise to put a smile back on Ben Chenery’s face after a heart scare.
The Blues boss is understood to be recovering well at home after being suddenly taken ill last Tuesday with chest pains which saw him end up in Papworth, a world-leading specialist heart hospital.
With it not thought to have been classed as a heart attack, chairman Russell Ward has said Chenery hopes to be back at Ram Meadow for Monday’s west Suffolk A134 derby with AFC Sudbury (3pm), though he may not be ready for a return to the dugout.
Player-coach Kennedy, who is set to take charge of the side over the next two games, with assistant manager Christian Appleford away on a pre-planned trip, revealed the players had been determined to ‘do it for Ben’ over their last couple of matches.
Chenery has been insistent that the Blues were never out of the play-off picture, despite a large gap, as big as 11 points, emerging. And two victories against play-off chasing sides, to make it three straight wins, a 2-1 come-from-behind success at home to Heybridge Swifts on Thursday and 2-0 win at Maldon & Tiptree on Saturday, has kept the Blues’ season alive.
They are in 10th position but four points off the top six heading into tomorrow’s game at 19th-placed Tilbury, with mid-table AFC Sudbury to follow on Monday, though others around them still hold games in hand.
“It might be a bit too late but all we can do is concentrate on the next game and keep winning,” said former Ipswich Town player Kennedy.
“All credit to the boys as it has been a difficult week or so.
“Before the game (on Thursday) the boys said they wanted to do it for Ben and give him something to smile about.
“It would be easy with him not being about to take their foot off the gas, but they have gone the other way and hopefully, it has cheered him up a bit.”
He added: “It would be great to have him around on Monday and would give us a bit of an extra boost.
“If we can get a win Saturday to go into that, that would be fantastic.
“It is a massive game on Monday, but we have got to think about Saturday first.”
Monday’s opponents AFC Sudbury head into the weekend looking to arrest a bad run of form which has seen them lose four of their last five, with the only point in that period coming from a 1-1 draw at bottom side Romford on Saturday.
The reverse fixture, on New Year’s Day, saw a late Cemal Ramadan penalty, disputed by the hosts, rescue a point for Bury after Ollie Peters had fired the Yellows into a first-half lead.
Kennedy said: “It is a local derby and it will probably be 100 miles an hour.
“We would like to do it for the fans and Ben and it (three points) would be a great lift to go into the Potters Bar game which will be really tough.”
Ryan Jolland (groin) and Noel Aitkens (ankle) are doubtful for tomorrow while full-back Ryan Yallop is back from a loan spell at Cheshunt.
Meanwhile, Bury now know their Suffolk Premier Cup final opponents will be higher-league Leiston, who have a number of ex-Blues in their squad, after they overcame Kirkley & Pakefield (3-1) on Tuesday. The final will be at Portman Road at a date in May yet to be confirmed.