After a trio of tough tests, manager Ben Chenery insists Bury Town’s survival bid starts at East Thurrock United tomorrow (3pm).
The Blues’ 3-1 defeat to Dulwich Hamlet on Saturday was their third consecutive loss to a side in the Ryman League Premier Division’s top three.
Tomorrow’s opponents may be chasing a place in the play-offs, but nine of their final 12 matches are against sides currently placed in the bottom half of the Ryman Premier table — including at Leatherhead on Wednesday (7.45pm).
“The majority of people would not have given us a chance against Maidstone, Margate and Dulwich, but I certainly did and everyone of those football clubs will be humble enough to know they were run close,” said Chenery. “It’s all well and good running people close and getting nothing, but I do know well that starting against East Thurrock we’re playing teams in and around us, and teams not pushing for promotion — they are the ones we’ve got to put to the sword.
“We have to take everything from the Dulwich game and put it into action again. If we do that, we’ll win.”
For Saturday’s clash with Dulwich at Ram Meadow, Bury made just one change from the 3-0 loss at Margate seven days earlier — Phill Weavers replaced Chris Benjamin, who was struggling with a back problem and left consigned to the substitute’s bench.
Connor Hall headed at Phil Wilson and Harry Ottoway drove over for Dulwich from just inside the penalty area during a largely uneventful opening.
The first real action came in the 20th minute when Joe Benjamin mugged Michael Kamara, shrugged the defender off and lifted the ball into the net.
Referee Daniel Cook had other ideas though and penalised Benjamin for a foul when even the Dulwich directors in the stand were expecting their man to receive the official’s attentions and probably even a red card.
A seven-minute delay ensued when one of the assistants suffered an injury, which allowed qualified-official Paul Meredith to get some early training for the Blues’ Bury-to-Bury charity bike ride as an emergency replacement on the line.
Hall twice tamely found the hands of Wilson with headers before the end of the half, but — 11 minutes into stoppage time — Bury switched off from a free-kick and Serge Makofo was afforded too much space to powerfully drive the visitors in front.
The goal seemed to do the trick in opening the game up and there was more of a sense of urgency from both sides as the second half got under way.
Justin Miller touched James Paterson’s free-kick goalwards, only for it to be blocked by a throng of bodies, while at the other end Makofo failed to control six yards out before Dulwich had a goal ruled out for a foul on Alex Archer.
Seven minutes into the second period, the Blues were back on level terms.
Benjamin delivered a tremendous pass into Remi Garrett with the outside of his left boot and Garrett took a fabulous first touch before sliding the ball beyond Wilson.
The Blues had the bit between their teeth, but could not create another clear opening and Kevin James curled a free-kick just wide of the left angle before Makofo miscued from close range when he seemed set to net.
However, Dulwich need not have worried about creating their own openings as Bury gifted them the advantage with a dreadful mix-up 15 minutes from time.
There appeared to be little danger when Milton Elenge received the ball at the back, but guided it back past an onrushing Archer, allowing Harry Ottoway to slide in and score with the hosts’ custodian scrambling back.
The belief visibly disappeared from Bury and from then on it was a case of how many more Dulwich would score.
Fortunately for the Suffolk side, it was just one as Ethan Pinnock swivelled and fired home via the inside of the left post.
“There were some great performances, but if you are going to make mistakes and gift people goals then you are not going to win football matches,” added Chenery. “That’s the cold light of day of it and that’s probably why they are here — because they have made mistakes elsewhere.
“If they keep making these mistakes and it’s the same department then I need to look at that and change that because it’s very frustrating.
“I feel the lads are putting so much in and have not got anything for it again — it’s like working a whole 12-hour shift and not coming back with any pay.”