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Confident Shakers plot path to safety: Bury 2 Portsmouth 0
IF points were awarded for canny mind games, Kevin Blackwell’s Shakers would be top of League One instead of clawing their way out of the relegation zone.
Goals from Dominic Poleon and captain Steven Schumacher – a penalty – were enough to beat managerless Pompey and the manner in which Bury boss Blackwell is going about reviving the fortunes is impressive.
It was a stop-start first half, but the hosts deserved their advantage when Poleon got the final touch to fellow-Leeds loanee Zac Thompson’s fierce shot following a Schumacher corner in the 19th minute.
Despite their one-goal advantage, Blackwell laid into his men at the interval and was rewarded when Poleon was fouled by Portsmouth left-back Carl Dickinson to concede a 55th-minute penalty awarded by the assistant referee which the outstanding Schumacher buried.
Bury could have already doubled their advantage within 13 seconds of the restart when Troy Hewitt raced clear of the visiting defence to go one-on-one with Mikkel Anderson, who pulled off a superb save.
It was a superb second-half performance from Blackwell’s men, who are now just two points away from climbing out of the relegation zone, but the Bury manager admitted dishing out an interval rollicking after being far from happy with their showing in the first period.
“I was disappointed because I believe that we’ve improved that much, I want to see that improvement,” he said. “I thought we were comfortable at 1-0, but I knew Portsmouth had enough quality in their team that they could hurt us if we didn’t finish them off.
“But we were a different class in the second half. We created chance after chance and our defensive shape was excellent.
“The lads are buying in to what I’ve asked them to do. And the energy levels in the second half were fantastic, considering they played with 10 men last week and we also had a game on Tuesday night, and I’ve got nothing but praise for them.”
Blackwell’s rebuke had the desired effect as Bury dominated a second half in which Portsmouth failed to muster a single shot on target.
After Poleon went to ground under Dickinson’s challenge following a raid down the right flank it seemed South Yorkshire referee Craig Pawson would not give the spot kick, but, after what seemed an eternity, he pointed to the spot when he saw his assistant flagging for the foul.
Seconds later, Schumacher buried the spot kick to make it 2-0 and Bury continued to dominate their more- illustrious opponents for the remainder of the match.
Portsmouth, who have Guy Whittingham in temporary charge following the departure of Michael Appleton to Blackpool, might have had more joy if Izale McLeod had hit the target with two gilt-edged chances they carved out in the opening period.
He shot high of Trevor Carson’s goal after successfully turning Matt Doherty on the edge of the box on nine minutes and produced a bad miss on 26 minutes after the Shakers defence was caught napping.
Ashley Harris’s goal-bound shot on the half hour was definitely going in, but the excellent Adam Lockwood produced a goal-saving block to preserve the Bury lead.
But you’ve got to take your hat off to the 806 Pompey fans. They never stopped singing throughout the whole time their team were under the cosh.
BURY: Carson 6, Doherty 7, Hughes 7, Lockwood 8 (A Jones 7), Skarz 7, Worrall 7, Schumacher 9, Thompson 7, Poleon 8 (C Jones 7), Hewitt 7 (Bishop 7), Hopper 7.
Subs: Sweeney, Healy, Belford.
PORTSMOUTH: Anderson, Dumbuya, Michalik, Gyepes (Ertl), Dickinson, Williamson, Howard, Russell (Walker), Harley (Compton), Harris, Harley, McLeod.
Subs: Eastwood, Webster.
Referee: Craig Pawson.
Attendance 3,280 (806 visiting).