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F/T: Stevenage 2 Bury 2
A LATE second-half goal from substitute Mark Cullen rescued a deserved point for Kevin Blackwell’s Bury side in his first match in charge.
It had looked like the new manager would be sent home from the Lamex Stadium empty-handed as a quick-fire second half double put Stevenage in the driving seat.
A Marcus Haber header in the 52nd minute was followed up by a fine Greg Tansey curler two minutes later to put Gary Smith’s promotion chasers ahead.
The home side had hauled themselves back in control of the game after Tom Hopper’s looping 25th minute header had seen Bury go into the break 1-0 up.
Yet Cullen, who came on with only nine minutes to play, popped up at the back post in the 84th minute to tap in Hopper’s centre and give the Shakers a deserved equaliser.
The point was not enough to haul Bury off the bottom of League One, but will give Blackwell’s side renewed belief as they go into back-to-back home games.
84 - GOAL - Stevenage 2 Bury 2 - Cullen
81 – Subs – Stevenage – Freeman off, Shroot on. Bury – Carrington off, Cullen on.
71 – Sub – Anthony Grant off, Filipe Morais on
66 – Hopper fails to make up enough ground to head Worrall’s cross in at the far post with the net gaping. The striker did all he could to get there and ended up crashing into the advertising hoardings.
63 – Sub – Healy off, Sweeney on - looks like a straight swap, with the centre midfielder playing in the hole behind Hopper.
Ok, from now on I'm going to keep my opinions about Kevin Blackwell to myself. I promise.
Stevenage go into the lead with a quick-fire double. Striker Marcus Haber rose highest to head home Luke Freeman's deep corner at the far post on 52 minutes. With Bury at sixes and sevens, attacking midfielder Greg Tansey then takes a potshot, curling past Carson two minutes later.
GOAL - STEVENAGE 2 Bury 1 - Greg Tansey
52 - GOAL - Stevenage 1 Bury 1 - Marcus Haber
52 - GOAL - Stevenage 1 Bury 1 - Marcus Haber
A small correction - it was Mark Hughes who crossed for Hopper's goal. Still, an assist for a centre back, whichever way it's reported.
PS: As things stand, Bury are no longer bottom of League One. Instant impact from Blackwell. The man's a magician!
Second half under way
Stevenage make a sub at the break, with centre back Jon Ashton replaced by Oliver Risser
The home side start the brightest, winger Lucas Akins forcing Carson to get down smartly to block his shot
BURY managed to take a lead into the break for the first time this season after shading an even first 45 minutes at the Lamex Stadium.
Tom Hopper was the hero, heading in after 25 minutes to record his first goal for the club since arriving on loan from Leicester City.
The striker started the match in an unfamiliar role on the left as new manager Kevin Blackwell started with a 4-2-3-1 formation.
He moved Hopper back up front after Lenell John-Lewis limped off in the 19th minute and the enforced switch paid dividends, as he rose highest to loop a header past Chris Day following a Steven Schumacher free-kick.
It was Bury’s first shot on target, but the visitors finished the half on top as sub Marcus Marshall and David Worrall began to make inroads on the flanks.
Stevenage remained a threat, but failed to extend Shakers stopper Trevor Carson, who was only forced into one save, getting down low to stop Luke Freeman’s drive in the 28th minute.
H/T: Stevenage 0 Bury 1
40 – Worrall’s chip sails just over with the keeper beaten.
41 – James Dunne is booked after scything Worrall down.
37 – Marshall booked – possibly unlucky as the home fans had been baying for blood after the ref let a series of challenges go.
38 – Play is pulled back with Stevenage bearing down on the Bury goal. Lockwood looked to have been knocked out after a clash of heads. Carson then angers home fans by failing to give the ball back to Stevenage.
34 – Healy test the keeper with a long-range effort.
Hopper opens his account for Bury with a looping header. The 18-year-old Leicester loan player rose highest after Schumacher’s initial free-kick had been bundled back into the box by Adam Lockwood.
Just a few minutes later Hopper forces Stevenage keeper Chris Day into a good save. His stabbed shot bounced into the floor and looked to be heading into the top corner before being tipped away.
25 - GOAL - Stevenage 0 Bury 1 - Hopper
23 – Booking for Greg Tansey for a strong tackle on Andrai Jones.
It's getting tasty out there, with Healy now dumped on his backside.
Hopper has switched to the lead striker, with Marshall filling in for him on the left.
19 - SUB - Marshall on for John-Lewis, who was injured by an innocuous looking tackle as the striker attempted to foul his own marker.
Going forward, Bury have not really got into gear as yet, with too many misplaced passes and flicks. The front four clearly need to do a bit of work on the training pitch before their new system can be judged ineffective, but Healy looks a bit wasted in a deeper role at present.
13 – A lax clearance from Bury again almost put the visitors in trouble, Andrai Jones taking too long to put the ball to safety. His attempted hoof upfield was charged down but the ball ricocheted around the box before boucing clear.
10 – A rash challenge from captain Steven Schumacher put Bury in trouble, handing them a free-kick wide on the right that left winger Luke Freeman whipped in dangerously. Stevenage were unable to the get the ball under control in the box with the Bury defenders flailing and the ball was eventually cleared.
Looks like Blackwell has surprised us all by starting with a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Healy is playing in the hole behind John-Lewis, while Hopper is wide left and Worrall wide right.
Under way at the Lamex...
Blackwell starts his first match in charge with three strikers in his starting line-up.
Lenell John-Lewis gets the nod alongside David Healy and Tom Hopper in what could be a front three, although Hopper - an 18-year-old loan signing from Leicester - could drift out to the left.
David Worrall returns to the starting line-up in midfield, with Peter Sweeney forced to settle for a place on the bench.
In defence, Efe Sodje misses out after starting Peter Shirtliff's last match in charge in a five-man defence.
Blackwell will more than likely opt for a 4-4-2 formation, with Hopper on the left and Worrall on the right.
STEVENAGE: Day; Gray, Charles, Ashton, Tansey; Grant, Dunne, Haber, Akins; Roberts, Freeman.
Subs: Arnold, Morais, Ball, Comminges, Lopez, Risser, Shroot.
BURY: Carson; A Jones, Lockwood, Hughes, Skarz; Schumacher, Carrington, Worrall; John-Lewis, Healy, Hopper.
Subs: Byrne, Sweeney, Marshall, Elford-Alliyu, Sodje, Cullen, Belford.
Referee: Graham Scott
After spending the last couple of years on a busman's holiday, touring football clubs as far afield as Houston, Texas, and Johannesberg, South Africa, it looks like the good weather has followed new Bury manager Kevin Blackwell to a sunny Lamex Stadium, where he leads out the Shakers for the first time against Stevenage.
Let's hope that is a good omen for the former Sheffield United and Leeds manager, who takes the reins from caretaker boss Peter Shirtliff with Bury rock bottom of League One after eight games.
They are still searching for their first win of the campaign and this would certainly be a handy place to get it.
Bury start as rank under-dogs, with Gary Smith's Stevenage side so far unbeaten at home, although they have drawn three of their first four games.
Team news and full line-ups tro follow...