REFEREEING decisions are beginning to balance out for Bury, according to assistant manager Alan Thompson.
The Shakers had a strong penalty appeal turned down at Oldham on Saturday but were on the right end of a game-changing red card during Tuesday night’s win at home to Bristol Rovers.
Pirates midfielder Stuart Sinclair was shown two yellow cards in 16 first-half minutes by referee Ben Toner, both for simulation.
It took a while for Bury to capitalise, but second-half goals from James Vaughan, Greg Leigh and substitute George Miller ensured they eased to victory and ended Rovers’ nine-game unbeaten run.
Although Thompson is glad luck has evened itself out, he claims to have not seen Sinclair’s double yellow.
“The fourth official was in my way, I couldn’t see it,” Thompson said.
“It’s very rare (a player gets two yellow cards for simulation) but it’s the rules so you can’t change that.
“They’re saying it was harsh but we have not had a penalty against Oldham on Saturday and we haven’t had one for James Vaughan in the first half tonight.
“Normally the rub of the green evens itself up. It was a big game for us because we have some tough matches coming up. To win 3-0 against a team going quite well is a great result.”
However, the victory did not always look straightforward as both sides struggled to get a foothold in the game in the first half.
It took a heroic last-ditch tackle from Leon Barnett to deny Rovers’ Byron Moore what looked a certain goal before the break.
Vaughan opened the scoring two minutes into the second half, converting a spot kick after Leigh was fouled in the box to net his 21st goal of the season.
Rovers skipper Tom Lockyer’s deflected effort hit the post soon after before Tom Pope made a vital goalline block.
But Vaughan then turned provider for the first time this season, crossing for Leigh to swoop low and head home Bury’s second, which ultimately ended Rovers’ hopes of a comeback.
Substitute Miller rounded off the scoring with his seventh goal of the campaign, as the Shakers made it four wins from six games since Lee Clark was appointed manager.
Goals from a defender, a striker and a substitute, along with a clean sheet, wrapped up a perfect result for Thompson who is glad everyone is chipping in to help the cause.
“If you can get centre-halves scoring six or seven goals a season, and midfielders chipping in like Andrew Tutte did at Chesterfield then it helps,” he said. “It takes the pressure off Vaughany, even though he has gone and notched again tonight.
“George (Miller) works hard at his finishing so as long as he gets his rewards he’ll keep working hard.
“He gets in behind, he wants to run, he hassles defenders. I’d hate to play against him if I was a centre-half.
“Our goal difference is better than the teams around us. We have had six games, won four, drawn one and lost one since Lee and I took over.”
Midfielder Jacob Mellis failed a late fitness test but could return to face Millwall this weekend.
The Bury Times also understands Craig Jones trained for the first time this week after a long spell on the sidelines, with a groin injury, but Thompson was giving nothing away ahead of Saturday’s tricky trip to the Den.
“He (Mellis) had an injury against Oldham on Saturday and failed a late fitness test,” Thompson explained. “He was close for tonight so touch wood he’ll be okay for Saturday.
“We have got one or two coming back, good players who have got a lot of games and experience under their belts. They’ll make us stronger again.
“It will be a tough game. I know they had a bad result at the weekend in the FA Cup at White Hart Lane but they are up there and round about the top eight. We will have to be on our game to get anything out of it.”
Bury (5-3-2): Murphy 7; Moore 7, Barnett 8, Kay 7, C Burgess 7, Leigh 8; Caddis 8, Styles 7 (Bryan 55, 7), Tutte 6 (Miller 45, 8); Pope 6, Vaughan 8 (Pennant 82, 6). Subs not used: Lainton, S Burgess, Hope, Lowe.
Bristol Rovers (4-3-3): Lumley; Clarke (Clarke-Salter 44), Lockyer, Sweeney, Brown (Montano 69); Mansell, Lines, Sinclair; Bodin (Gaffney 45), James, Moore. Subs not used: Mildenhall, Leadbitter, Harris, Burn.
Referee: Ben Toner (Lancashire).
Attendance: 2,535 (346 visiting).