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Bury 2 Bournemouth 2
KEVIN Blackwell reckons the Gigg Lane crowd will be swelled by visiting scouts from other clubs, even if the Shakers improved form is not matched by an increase in attendances.
There was no word of rebuke from the Bury manager after defender Ethan Ebanks-Landell committed his only mistake of the game to allow Cherries substitute Brett Pitman to steal the ball before scoring the stoppage-time leveller.
Instead, Blackwell was full of praise for his men, who had pushed the club with the largest and most expensive squad in the division all the way.
“It was a great advert for League One football,” he said. “It was an absolutely corking game, and I’m so proud of my players.
“If we can’t swell the crowd in terms of spectators, I think we’ll swell it in terms of the number of scouts coming here to look at my players, that’s for sure.”
A win would have lifted Bury out of the relegation zone, a scenario which barely seemed believable several weeks ago when they were adrift and winless at the bottom of the table.
Of the four goals Bury’s opener on 15 minutes was by far the best. Peter Sweeney, in for the injured captain Steven Schumacher (ankle), slipped a superb pass inside the Bournemouth left-back, Charlie Daniels, to free Matt Doherty down the Bury right. His inch-perfect cross was met at the near post by Troy Hewitt who gave former England goalkeeper David James no chance from close range.
The Shakers continued to boss the first half and might have stretched their lead, but 42-year-old James showed his pedigree when he turned Sweeney’s 29th-minute free kick round the post.
The visitors predictably came out for the second half all guns blazing and were briefly awarded a 53rd-minute penalty after East Yorkshire referee Carl Boyeson adjudged Doherty had handled the ball at the back post. But after protests from the Bury players, Mr Boyeson consulted his assistant and awarded a corner instead.
“I’ve got to praise the referee,” said Blackwell. “There have been many times when referees have been so arrogant and think that if they are seen to change their mind, it’s a sign of weakness. But, to be fair to him, he spoke to his assistant, and they agreed that Doherty had headed the ball out.”
Bournemouth, however, did not have to wait long for a deserved equaliser. Daniels raided down the right and Lewis Grabban was there for a neat finish.
Although the south coast men penned Bury back, the hosts always looked a threat on the break, and so it proved 13 minutes from time when David Worrall capitalised on a James error to restore the Shakers lead.
The pacy Worrall followed in his long-range shot which was blocked in Bournemouth penalty area. James advanced to collect the ball, but Worrall beat him to it and clipped it passed the veteran keeper into the empty net.
Bournemouth’s undefeated run looked all but gone, but, deep into added time, substiPitman, who returned to the Cherries this week after an unhappy spell at Bristol City, dispossessed Ebanks-Landell on the edge of his own penalty area before curling the ball inside Trevor Carson’s far post.
Former Bury man Mark Pugh might have grabbed with a winner for Bournemouth even after that, but his 25-yard shot came back off the bar.
Bury: Carson 7, Doherty 7, Ebanks-Landell 7, Hughes 7, Skarz 7, Worrall 7, Thompson 8, Sweeney 8, Soares 7, Hopper 7 (John-Lewis 6), Hewitt 7.
Not used: C Jones, A Jones, Carrington, Sodje, Belford.
Bournemouth: James, Francis, Addison, Elphick, Daniels, McQuiod (McDermott), MacDonald, Arter (O’Kane), Pugh, Tubbs (Pitman), Grabban.
Subs: Jalal, O’Kane, Fogden, Cook, Pittman, Bernard, McDermott.
Referee: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire).
Attendance: 2,541 (259 visiting).