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Bury 0 Coventry City 2: Bury rue offside 'goal' decision
JUST when you thought Bury were beginning to head in the right direction, they hit a dead end.
A run of four matches without defeat ended against Sheffield United last time out and, while Saturday’s performance was a marked improvement on that tired display, it produced the same result.
Manager Kevin Blackwell went more gung-ho, switching to 4-4-2 after replacing holding midfielder Ethan Ebanks-Landell with fit-again winger David Worrall.
But striker Andy Bishop, who cut a lonely figure against the Blades, had little or no time to benefit from the company of Nicky Ajose before Bury were behind.
Sky Blues striker Leon Clarke set Coventry on their way inside three minutes. And while the Shakers responded well, their road to recovery was blocked by a cruel offside decision in the second half, and that was soon followed by Carl Baker’s second for Coventry.
“It wouldn’t be a Bury home game if we weren’t 1-0 down after two or three minutes, handing them a goal,” said frustrated keeper Trevor Carson, who would have happily swapped his man-of-the-match performance for three points.
“That’s why we are where we are – we make silly mistakes that other teams don’t, so we’ve only got ourselves to blame.”
With relegation rivals Colchester and Scunthorpe both losing, Bury had an ideal chance to cut the gap to safety, yet they were always on the back foot following Clarke’s smash and grab.
The burly forward capitalised on a lapse in concentration from Ashley Eastham to get goal-side of the Bury defender, storming down the left channel and into the box before slotting under Carson. The early goal calmed the nerves of caretaker manager Lee Carsley, in charge for the first time after taking the reins from Huddersfield-bound Mark Robins.
And Coventry could have made life even easier for their new boss after Stephen Elliott hit the post on six minutes, while James Bailey’s curling shot from the rebound was headed off the line by Joe Skarz.
But Bury got back into it. Worrall tested Coventry keeper Joe Murphy with a volley. And while Carson was called into action again to tip over a quick free-kick from Gary McSheffrey, Bishop could and probably should, have put the Shakers back on level terms on the stroke of halt time.
The 29-year-old striker found himself with time and space on the penalty spot, but took too long to get his shot off before seeing his eventual effort bobble wide of the post.
Carson kept Bury’s hopes alive with a string of good saves at the start of the second half before Bishop countered with a header that clipped the crossbar just after the hour. That heralded the Shakers best spell. Craig Jones replaced right-back Carl Regan, who was spared further punishment from the impressive McSheffrey, and with Worrall moved into defence, Bury looked more assured.
But when Jones’s calm finish was ruled out on 68 minutes for what assistant manager Peter Shirtliff described as a “dubious” offside decision, you felt their chance had gone.
And, just five minutes later, Baker sealed the win for the visitors.
The Coventry captain created space in the box by dummying to shoot with his right before drilling home a left-footed strike into the bottom corner, and the Shakers’ fight fizzled out, although Ajose had a late effort cleared off the line.
Results elsewhere, barring a fortunate 2-0 win for Shrewsbury at high-flyers Tranmere, ensured Bury’s plight was not made any worse. But with only 14 matches remaining, Carson warned they must start creating their own luck, and fast. “You look at Shrewsbury, who were gifted a couple of goals, and think when is that going to happen to us?” he said.
“Everything we’ve had we’ve had to earn and everything we’ve given to other teams we’ve handed them on a plate, so it’s not a good combination, is it?”
BURY: Carson 7; Regan 4 (Jones 61 7), Eastham 5, Zubar 7, Skarz 6; Schumacher 6, Thompson 6; Soares 6 (Carole 78), Worrall 7, Ajose 7 (Fagan 86); Bishop 5.
Not used: Carrington, Healy, Belford, Ebanks-Landell.
COVENTRY: Murphy; Christie, Wood, Cameron, Dickinson; Baker, Bailey, Jennings (Tomas 90+2), McSheffrey (Fleck 86); Elliott (Moussa 74), L Clarke.
Not used: J Clarke, Barton, Dunn, Edjenguele.
Referee: Darren Drysdale.
Attendance: 3,745 (1,241).