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VERDICT: Bury 1 Hartlepool United 0
DANNY Nardiello has only started two games at the JD Stadium but already the on-loan Rotherham United striker has made himself at home.
The 31-year-old forward certainly looks like the perfect fit for a Shakers side that had been crying out for a proven goalscorer.
Supporters have greeted Nardiello’s arrival for a second loan spell as that of a returning saviour – and that’s how it turned out against Hartlepool on Tuesday night when his match-winning strike sealed Bury’s first win at home since August 31.
It also underlined a gradual improvement in results, stretching the side’s unbeaten run to four matches and leaving caretaker boss Ronnie Jepson with a record of just two defeats from his eight matches in charge.
Nardiello now believes, with his goals, the Shakers should soon start to move away from their current position of 20th in the League Two table and out of relegation danger.
“There is a belief in the changing room which the manager has instilled, he said.
“The performances have been good, but it’s just the results that haven’t been there so now we have got this win under our belt, hopefully we can get a few more.”
The Shakers controlled the contest from start to finish, restricting Colin Cooper’s mid-table side to just two shots on target.
Veteran midfielder Tommy Miller, in for suspended captain Andy Procter, helped to boss the middle of the park alongside Tom Soares, while centre-back pairing Nathan Cameron and William Edjenguele adopted a safety-first approach following recent error-strewn displays.
It was Nardiello, however, who provided the real difference.
After Miller’s early header was well held by Pool keeper Scott Flinders, Nardiello burst clear for his first opportunity of the game in only the sixth minute.
His run was found by a long clearance from Brian Jensen, but the striker fluffed an audacious attempt to chip the on-rushing Flinders.
Nardiello almost atoned with a fierce drive in the 19th minute, which the keeper gathered at the second attempt.
The two teams cancelled each other out for the remainder of the half.
But Nardiello finally made his class count just after the break when he brought down a Shaun Beeley throw and turned sharply in the box before curling a low shot past the unsighted Flinders.
“I turned the guy inside and I’ve just hit it, like a cross shot towards the far post and luckily for me it’s gone in,” he said.
“I should have scored the chip in the first half; I’m not sure what I was doing with that really, so it was nice to finally get on the scoresheet.”
Nardiello’s first goal for the club in his second spell on loan was actually his sixth of the season.
He started Rotherham’s League One campaign on fire, scoring five in his first four games, but had not scored in his last six for the Millers.
The experienced striker admits, however, the move still came out of the blue.
“It was as much as a surprise to me as I’m sure it was to the Bury fans,” he said.
“I always think if you score goals you deserve your place in the team.
“I think my ratio is one in two at Rotherham, but I wasn’t wanted so that’s life isn’t it?
“I’ve come here because the gaffer was desperate to get me here.
“I am happy to be at Bury – it’s nice to be at a club where you are playing week in, week out.
“You can score some goals and your confidence goes higher and higher and that’s what I want to do here at Bury.”
Nardiello tired in the closing stages and was eventually replaced with 10 minutes remaining.
By that point Bury looked happy to sit on their lead.
But Soares condemned the 1,800 Shakers fans inside the JD Stadium to a nervous finale after squandering a gilt-edged opportunity in the box, taking an age to control Danny Hylton’s knockdown before seeing his side-footed effort deflected wide.
Hartlepool almost made him pay, as Luke James broke into the box in the 85th minute but his lofted cross-shot over Jensen was headed to safety by Bury left-back Dean Howell and the long-awaited win was assured.
BURY: Jensen 6; Beeley 7, Cameron 6 (Hinds 88), Edjenguele 7, Howell 7; Jones 7, Miller 7, Soares 7, Sedgwick 7; Hytlon 8, Nardiello 8 (Harrad 80). Not used: E Holden, Mayor, Reindorf, Navas, Lainton.
HARTLEPOOL UNITED: Flinders; Duckworth, Baldwin, Burgess, Austin; Compton (Richards 66), Dolan (B Walker 66), Walton Franks (Rodney 76); James, Poole. Not used: Collins, Rafferty, Sweeney, D Holden.
Goals: Bury 1 (Nardiello 48) Hartlepool United 0.
Yellow cards: Bury – Hylton 43.
Referee: Mark Heywood (Cheshire)
Attendance: 1,998 (191 visiting)
Star man: Danny Nardiello – The Rotherham United striker admits he does not know what he has done wrong at his parent club to be farmed out on loan to Bury, but you won’t find any Shakers fan complaining. He was the main difference between the two sides on Tuesday night, encapsulating his man-of-the-match display with a killer first touch and striker’s eye for goal to slot home the winner. The fact he beat himself up about a fluffed first-half opportunity in the post-match press conference speaks volumes about the 31-year-old’s hunger for goals. Let’s hope he gets his fill with Bury.
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