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VERDICT: Bury 2 Fleetwood Town 2
PABLO Mills became the latest Bury player to claim they have nothing to fear from any side in League Two – and after holding promotion hopefuls Fleetwood Town to a draw it is hard to argue.
Five of the division’s top-seven teams have now visited the JD Stadium since David Flitcroft took charge of the Shakers and not one of them has left with all three points.
Fleetwood could easily have broken that trend after going into the break leading through an Antoni Sarcevic goal.
But the Bury boss earned his corn – and maintained his eight-match unbeaten home record – with an inspired half-time team-talk.
A second-half double from Daniel Nardiello, either side of a Jamille Matt tap-in for Fleetwood, saw the Shakers twice come from behind to earn a point that saw them move up to 19th in the table.
But Mills, whose man-of-the-match performance was instrumental in shaking the home side out of their malaise, remained frustrated by their lacklustre opening.
“I won’t repeat what was said, but there were a few words (from the manager),” he said.
“He challenged us to show character and second half we gave a good account of ourselves, but it shouldn’t take words in the changing room to get us started.
"It’s frustrating because there’s nothing in this league that we should be scared of. Hopefully wins will come our way soon.”
The match started promisingly enough after Nardiello seized on an errant backpass in the first minute. But no team-mate gambled to meet his inviting centre across the six-yard box and Fleetwood quickly took control.
Nathan Pond missed the pick of the visitors’ early chances, Brian Jensen getting down well at his back post to palm away the Fleetwood defender’s header from a Conor McLaughlin corner.
It took until the 25th minute for Bury to muster their first shot on target – Nardiello’s angled strike from outside the box was straight at keeper Chris Maxwell.
But Flitcroft’s men continued to look nervous from set-pieces and Pond had another goal-bound effort from a corner blocked.
Bury substitute Tom Soares did manage to test the Fleetwood keeper with a shot across goal.
But Graham Alexander’s fifth-placed side deservedly broke the deadlock in the 41st minute when Sarcevic finished off a flowing counter-attack, slotting a low Josh Morris cross through Jensen’s legs at the back post.
Flitcroft’s half-time team talk worked wonders, however, as his side came out firing on all cylinders and equalised within two minutes of the restart.
Nardiello was awarded the opener as the closest Bury player to a wicked low cross from the right from Mayor. The fact the ball looped rather than blasted in at the near post, coupled with the striker’s lukewarm celebration, suggested it took a deflection off Fleetwood defender Mark Roberts.
All of a sudden, the flow of the game swung in Bury’s favour, but Fleetwood broke 10 minutes later to go back in front after a shot from former Shakers captain Steven Schumacher was blocked by Jensen into the path of Matt, who made no mistake, firing into the empty net from six yards.
The Cod Army’s advantage lasted all of five minutes though as Nardiello picked himself up after being fouled by Alan Goodall to slot the resulting penalty into the bottom corner.
Anton Forrester – a second-half substitute for Clive Platt – limped off injured following a nasty tackle from Roberts in the build-up to the penalty.
His replacement, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, had an early effort charged down by Maxwell, but Fleetwood continued to pose problems on the break, Schumacher hooking a shot wide after riding a challenge from Frederic Veseli.
Mayor had the last word for Bury though with a fierce strike that Maxwell just managed to block at his near post.
Delighted by his side’s response, Flitcroft remained disappointed they had yet again failed to put a promotion contender to the sword following recent home draws against Rochdale, Oxford United, Burton Albion and Scunthorpe United.
“We asked the players at half time to individually step up to their mark and try to dominate their area of the pitch and second half we took Fleetwood on and dominated them,” he said.
“But it’s about putting in 95-minute performances if you want to win football matches.”
BURY: Jensen 7; Veseli 6, Mills 7, McNulty 6; Sedgwick 6, Tutte 6, Miller 7, Carroll 6 (Soares 6 38); Mayor 5; Platt 6 (Forrester 57, Akpa Akpro 6 63), Nardiello 8. Not used: Hinds, Grimes, Young, Charles-Cook.
FLEETWOOD TOWN: Maxwell; Goodall; McLaughlin, Roberts, Pond, Taylor (Murdoch 86); Sarcevic, Schumacher, Morris; Parkin (Mandron 86), Matt. Not used: Davies, Evans, Blair, Hughes, Jordan.
Goals: Bury 2 (Nardiello 47 & 62) Fleetwood Town 2 (Sarcevic 41, Matt 46).
Yellow cards: Fleetwood Town – Pond 81.
Referee: Mark Haywood (West Yorkshire) Attendance: 2,467 (272 visiting).
Star man: Daniel Nardiello – Pablo Mills was awarded the man-of-the-match champagne at the final whistle, and there is no doubt the defender fully deserved it after helping to restore order to the Bury back line following a shaky start. But Nardiello was on hand to provide the end product, even if he was lucky to be awarded the Shakers’ opener. The striker’s eighth and ninth goals in a Bury shirt this campaign ensured manager David Flitcroft’s unbeaten home record did not fall. And the classy target man will surely continue to have an impact on the JD outfit’s run-in.
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