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Bury 0 Swindon 1
AS home debuts go, Saturday’s defeat to Swindon could not have started much worse for Kevin Blackwell.
But the fact that Bury did not crumble after going behind to a James Collins fluke inside 30 seconds was at least some comfort to the 53-year-old Shakers boss.
Other than a couple of attempted tackles, Bury had not managed a touch on the ball by the time Trevor Carson stooped to pick it out of his net.
The ball was worked out to Collins on the right from the kick-off and it seemed the Swindon striker was set to waste the opportunity when he wound up to cross into an empty box, only for his effort to drift over Carson and into the top corner.
After an understandable wobble, Bury eventually managed to wrestle back possession of the ball and their chances of forcing a route back into the match looked bright when David Healy had a shot charged down at the back post in the 10th minute.
The Northern Ireland striker could have possibly done better with the opportunity after finding space behind the Swindon defence following a flowing counter attack.
But the 33-year-old dwelled on his shot long enough for full-back Jay McEveley to get back and make the block.
That was the start of a period of prolonged pressure for Bury, but other than a series of dangerous corners that Swindon struggled to clear, they never looked like scoring.
At the other end, Bury’s backline were never given a second on the ball as Paulo Di Canio’s side pressed high up the pitch.
And Blackwell had new loan signing Matt Doherty – who started instead of Andrai Jones at right-back – to thank as the Shakers managed to go into the break only 1-0 down.
The 20-year-old Wolves defender did well to charge down a Federico Bessone shot in the box to deny Swindon a certain goal late in the half and, apart from a few loose passes, enjoyed a positive debut.
He was, in fact, the only player offered any platitudes by Blackwell at the final whistle after the manager saw his side fail to muster a single shot on target in the entire match.
The intensity Bury showed in the first half was sadly lacking in the second as they ran out of steam and ideas.
But Swindon substitute Adam Rooney spared them further agony, missing a hat-trick of chances after the break while Mark Hughes did well to clear one Rooney effort off the line.
Admittedly, Blackwell was missing David Worrall with tonsillitis, while Andy Bishop’s recall from Wrexham was delayed due to red-tape, but he was understandably concerned by their lack of threat in the final third.
“We need to help them by being smarter both on and off the pitch,” Blackwell said at the final whistle. “We need players in to help the good players that are here to move them on and the players that can’t do it or won’t do it won’t be here for much longer.”
BURY: Carson 6; Doherty 7, Lockwood 6, Hughes 7, Skarz 6; Marshall 6, Carrington 6 (C Jones 6), Schumacher 6, Sweeney 6; Healy 5 (Cullen 5), Hopper 6 (Elford-Alliyu 5).
Not used: Byrne, A Jones, Sodje, Belford.
SWINDON: Foderingham; Thompson (Devera), Flint, Ward, McEveley; Ritchie, Miller, Ferry, Bessone; Williams (Rooney), Collins (Benson).
Not used: Archibald-Henville, Navaro, Bedwell, Bostock.
Referee: Andy Haines.
Attendance: 2,683 (408).