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VERDICT: Plymouth 2 Bury 1
6:20am Thursday 26th December 2013 in Sport
IN the bottom two at Christmas and things are going to get worse before they get better – not exactly music to the ears of Shakers fans this festive season.
But if new Bury boss David Flitcroft is proved correct, they will be enjoying a belated Christmas present come the spring.
“This is not about Christmas, this is about the end of the season, and I know where we are going to be then, we’re going to be in League Two,” he promised.
Results elsewhere meant Bury slipped four places to second bottom after Reuben Reid popped up with a late winner for Argyle.
The Shakers had looked destined to repeat the same 1-1 score line as Flitcroft’s first match in charge the previous week when Chris Sedgwick cancelled out Caolan Lavery’s opener with a sublime chip.
But a groin injury 15 minutes from time forced off captain Craig Jones after Flitcroft had made his allotted three substitutions and 10-man Bury were unable to hang on.
The result, along with troubling injuries to Jones and right-back Shaun Beeley, who was substituted in the first half with a hamstring strain, left the 39-year-old Shakers boss hanging on for January’s transfer window.
But he warned there would be no quick fixes. “It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better,” he said.
“After two years of hurt, two years of doing the wrong things, I’m not going to be able to fix it in two games.
“I’ve got two years to turn it around and I’m looking forward to doing that, but it’s definitely going to take time.”
Defensive lapses in the opening and closing stages ruined Bury’s good work after they had taken further tentative steps towards the passing, possession-hungry style of play Flitcroft is hoping to implement.
Lavery was able to out-pace and out-fox centre-back William Edjenguele as he burst into the box in the 10th-minute before sending keeper Brian Jensen the wrong way with a low shot inside his near post.
The goalscorer had already forced Jensen into a good save to keep out his bullet header from a corner and wasted a golden chance to double the lead on the half hour, heading a Lewis Alessandra cross wide with the goal at his mercy.
With the majority of Plymouth’s raids starting down Bury’s right, Flitcroft eventually decided to withdraw full-back Shaun Beeley, who he confirmed later was struggling with tight hamstrings. Makeshift defender Marco Navas fared a little better, and Bury slowly grew into the game.
They should have gone into the break on level terms after a slick exchange of passes between Tommy Miller and Sedgwick unlocked the Argyle defence in the 39th minute.
But Danny Mayor, who was set free in the area, saw his nervous shot blocked by Plymouth keeper Luke McCormick.
The late chance seemed to galvanise Bury and they dominated the majority of the second half.
Danny Nardiello hit the post with a low shot in the 48th minute before Sedgwick equalised a minute later, floating the ball into the top corner from 25 yards for his debut league goal in Bury colours.
Flitcroft clearly sensed his maiden victory was there for the taking as he flung on strikers Anton Forrester and Shaun Harrad before Jones was forced to limp off.
And it was from Bury’s right, vacated by the winger, that Alessandra was able to single out Navas before crossing to Reid, who made no mistake from six yards out.
The consequences of the result rather than the manner of the performance that led to it rightly triggered alarm bells.
But Flitcroft remains adamant the majority of the players at his disposal have it within them to lead Bury out of trouble. “The link-up between Craig Jones, Danny Mayor and Danny Nardiello was exciting. We just need that last little bit – that belief to go and score,” he said.
“There is a nucleus of good players at this football club, we just have to make sure we get the balance right in the squad.
“All I can say is keep believing, keep the faith and I guarantee we will get this right.”
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE: McCormick; Blanchard, Trotman, Nelson, Berry; Alessandra, Blizzard, Young, Gurrieri; Reid (Boco 79), Lavery (Bencherif 88). Not used: Cole, Blackman, Branston, Wotton, Reckord.
BURY: Jensen 6; Beeley 5 (Navas 6 33), Cameron 5, Edjenguele 5, Howell 6; Miller 7, Procter 7 (Harrad 6 67); Sedgwick 8, Jones 7, Mayor 7; Nardiello 6 (Forrester 6 63). Not used: Roberts, Grimes, Charles-Cook, Walker.
Goals: Plymouth Argyle 2 (Navery 10, Reid 79) Bury 1 (Sedgwick 49).
Yellow cards: Plymouth Argyle – Lavery 87. Bury – Mayor 68. Referee: Michael Bull (Essex).
Attendance: 6,206 (160 visiting).
Star man: Chris Sedgwick – The midfielder looks every inch a David Flitcroft player as he revels in Bury’s new passing style. Always happy to receive the ball and rarely misplaces a pass, the 33-year-old added an eye for a goal to his game on Saturday. He wasted no time in floating a delicate chip past Luke McCormick after noticing the Argyle keeper off his line. It was a goal that deserved to win a game, but ultimately counted for nothing.
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