LEE Clark insists Bury have the requisite fighting spirit needed for the relegation battle after ending a run of three straight defeats by claiming a “huge” point at Bolton on Tuesday night.
The Shakers capitalised on the slip-ups made by rivals at the foot of League One over the Easter break to open up a two-point cushion over the drop zone.
The spectacle at the Macron was not pretty but Clark’s plan worked superbly as his side withstood heavy Wanderers pressure and threatened with the odd counter-attack.
Adam Le Fondre came closest to scoring with a shot that crashed down off the underside of the bar and possibly went over the line.
But it was not given and Bury stood tall to hold out for a share of the spoils.
The draw ended a 27-year wait for a league point at Bolton, and Clark was happy for his side to play the role of the underdog as they took another step to securing safety.
“At this moment in time it’s a huge point,” Clark said. “We have come to the team that is going for second place and an automatic promotion position, a strong and powerful team, and my players have given a really spirited performance, one you would expect from a team in our position.
“Everyone to a man is up for the fight. Could we have done more with the ball? Of course we could. Could we have created more chances? Of course we could.
“We came for the win and always tried to leave two strikers up the pitch. But it’s a really tough place to come, especially because they were going all out for the three points.
“Not many people outside of our dressing room would have given us a chance of getting a positive result.”
Tension was at fever pitch for the majority of the game, with the home fans and players clearly feeling the pressure after third-placed Fleetwood closed the gap to Bolton to just one point on Easter Monday.
And Clark claimed part of his master plan involved taking advantage of the nerves around the Macron Stadium.
“There’s pressure at either end,” Clark added. “There’s pressure because this is a big club in this division. Getting back into the Championship would be huge for them.
“The fans sensed that, if they get a little bit nervy does that transfer to the players?
“When you come away from home that’s what you do, you play the crowd. That has got to be part of your gameplan.
“You have got to work the crowd so that they make the home team nervous. That’s what we’ve done a little bit.”
Goalkeeper Joe Murphy bounced back from his costly mistake against Rochdale with another fine performance to keep his first clean sheet in four games.
The Irishman was not tested at all in the first half but after the break he made a number of fine saves, not least to tip Filipe Morais’ 90th-minute free kick over the bar.
And the shot stopper’s display drew praise from Clark.
He said: “Once again he has made a couple of great saves and made a couple of great decisions.
“I am a huge fan of Joe’s and that’s the measure of the man. Me, the staff and the rest of the players weren’t pointing the finger at Joe personally for the Rochdale mistake.
“We win together, we lose together. Joe has certainly helped us get lots of positive results in my time here.”
Meanwhile, Bury’s goal drought continued as they fired a blank for the fifth time in six games, but Clark was able to laugh off his side’s recent lack of goals after earning a highly respectable point on the road.
“What I do is block the goals up in training,” Clark joked. “We don’t have any sessions on shooting and I tie the striker’s legs together. I don’t enjoy winning games, I like having 0-0s.
“I’m only having a bit of fun. Of course we do. We need to find a way to create more and we are looking at it. We have James Vaughan who is one of the best strikers in the league.”
Bury (5-3-2): Murphy 7; Moore 7, Barnett 8, Kay 8, C Burgess 8, Leigh 7; Caddis 7, Tutte 6, S Burgess 6 (Lowe 72, 6); Vaughan 6 (Miller 62, 6), Pope 6.
Subs not used: Williams, Hulme, Mackreth, Pennant, Hope.
Bolton (3-5-1-1): Howard; Dervite, Beevers, Wheater; Morais, Spearing, Pratley (Long 76), Derik (Henry 65), Taylor; Vela; Le Fondre.
Subs not used: Turner, Moxey, Karacan, Solomon-Otabor, Wilkinson.
Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire).
Attendance: 18,223 (1,553 visiting).