Neil O’Sullivan is confident Bury have begun to turn the corner, even in the wake of Sam Newson robbing them of three precious points on Saturday.
RYMAN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE NORTH Bury Town 1 Maldon & Tiptree 2
The Blues’ lack of cutting edge left them with nothing to show for their efforts in a game in which they were the dominant side against the Jammers.
But a first half brace from Needham Market goalscoring legend Newson, including a stunning volleyed opener (see www.buryfreepress.co.uk/video) proved to be enough to seal a backs-to-the-wall victory, with only Ollie Hughes managing a reply as Bury’s play-off push suffered another big setback.
Goalkeeper O’Sullivan kept his side in the game until the final whistle with a fine penalty save — keeping up his excellent spotkick record this season which has seen him help his side to three shootout successes — to deny Newson the hat-trick and matchball, but it was not to be.
The former Histon custodian drew plenty of positives from the game though, as Bury look to recreate the momentum they had engineered at the start of the campaign.
“They did not cause too many problems for us, but they just took their chances,” he said.
“We definitely had chances and I felt we could have got something out of the game.
“The injuries haven’t helped but I felt today was one of our best performances in a while.
“Their first was a great strike and there was nothing as a whole team we could do about it.”
He added: “We have got to get back to where we were at the start of the season, keeping clean sheets and scoring goals.”
Bury had gone into the contest on a miserable run of only one win in eight going back to the end of November, but with their manager, Ben Chenery, saying his side could bridge the 10 point gap to the play-offs.
But their task, ahead of picking up three points at strugglers Witham Town on Tuesday, looked an even taller order after suffering back-to-back defeats over the weekend.
The first ever league meeting between the sides burst into life with a goal capable of gracing any stage giving the Essex visitors the lead.
With the ball dropping into his path from near-on 30 yards out, Newson thundered a volley unto the top corner as he cast desperate O’Sullivan in the role of David Seaman back in 1995 with the striker his Nayim nemesis.
It could have left Bury shellshocked and licking their wounds, but Chenery’s side showed nothing of the sort, hitting level within two minutes.
After forcing a corner, James Paterson’s delivery was only headed back out to him and from the better angled cross, Ollie Hughes deftly directed his header beyond James Bransgrove.
Maldon & Tiptree, who were being watched by Colchester United representatives including former Ipswich Town players John McGreal and Wayne Brown as part of the Sky Bet League One club’s link-up with the Ryman League side, now managed by U’s academy coach Steve Ball, managed to stay level despite Justin Miller, Ollie Canfer and Hughes going close with headers.
But it was Newson who again showed the composure to put his side back in the lead just before the interval, providing a deft finishing header to a quick counter-attack led by ex-Spurs and Ipswich youngster Darren McQueen.
The second half saw Bury pick up where they had left off with Mayhew wasting a golden chance when he scooped a Tevan Allen cross over the crossbar, but despite dictating the play their clear-cut opportunities dried up as the Jammers were able to soak up all the hosts had to throw at them.
O’Sullivan kept the result in doubt with his penalty save from Newson after Tarryn Auarkhia’s jinking run caught out Remi Garrett, but a late Hughes header via a free-kick was greatly claimed by Bransgrove.
Bury: O’Sullivan, Allen, Paterson, Kennedy, Miller, Weavers, Canger, Hall (De’ath 76), Hughes, Mayhew, Aitkens (Garrett 55). Unused subs: Hammett, Nurse.
Referee: Nathan Walker.
Free Press Man of The Match: Justin Miller.