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VERDICT: Bury 2 York 1
BURY’S first win under David Flitcroft may have ensured they started 2014 out of the League Two relegation places, but it was the style rather than the substance that had the manager purring.
The Shakers adopted a new-look 3-4-3 system, employed possibly out of necessity as much as anything else, due to the club’s mounting injury list.
But the switch paid dividends within just 43 seconds as Anton Forrester finished off a flowing move that belied Bury’s lowly league position.
Nathan Cameron doubled the Shakers’ advantage inside the opening 20 minutes and while they ended up hanging on after York substitute Michael Coulson pulled one back, Flitcroft was buoyed by the display.
“The first goal was everything I believe in and everything I want to see on a football pitch,” he said.
“The lads have responded well to what I have asked them to do, adapting to a new system, and I have been pleased with certain aspects of our play.
“We are coming up against a lot of rigid teams who play 4-4-2. When you play in between units it causes problems and that’s what we have done.
“The surprise element was good, we had players popping up in great positions, but it’s worked on in detail, it’s not lucky, and that’s what has left me buzzing about the performance.”
Flitcroft brought in Richard Hinds in place of William Edjenguele, playing the experienced defender at the centre of a back three, in between Cameron on the right and Dean Howell on the left.
With key midfielders Tom Soares and Craig Jones missing, veteran full-back Gareth Roberts was switched to the left of midfield, while Danny Mayor played just behind a front two of Forrester and Daniel Nardiello.
The tactical switch proved a masterstroke as Bury threatened to blow away their fellow League Two strugglers with a blistering start.
Forrester – recalled in place of Shaun Harrad for his first start since October – responded with a goal inside the opening minute, storming into the box to finish off a move started by a clever reverse pass from Chris Sedgwick.
That put Mayor in behind the York defence and his low centre fell invitingly for the 19-year-old Blackburn loanee to claim his sixth goal of the season and first since late September.
The Shakers’ second, in the 18th minute, followed a howler by the Minstermen’s keeper, Aaron McCarey, who dropped a tame Daniel Nardiello header at Cameron’s feet and the young defender tapped it home.
Nardiello should have made it 3-0 on 27 minutes, slicing a Forrester pull-back wide.
To York’s credit, they slowly played themselves back into the game after getting to grips with Flitcroft’s attacking formation.
The visitors failed to create any clear-cut chances, but did make their presence felt with some tasty challenges, forcing referee Scott Mathieson to dish out yellow cards to York’s Lewis Montrose and Elliott Whitehouse, as well as Bury’s Tommy Miller.
York continued their improvement in the second half following a double substitution by boss Nigel Worthington at the break.
Coulson – one of his introductions – had two decent shots on target before finally pulling one back for the visitors on 73 minutes, tapping in at the back post after a deflected shot fell at his feet.
Bury had their own chances, with Hinds’ header drifting just wide and Forrester hitting the post from a tight angle.
But Flitcroft’s men came under severe pressure from a determined York attack, and owed their eventual three points to a dominant display from goalkeeper Brian Jensen and some desperate last-ditch defending.
The visitors’ enthusiasm did get the better of them at times, with Lanre Oyebanjo’s dive in the box earning one of three second-half bookings for the Minstermen.
Harrad, who replaced Forrester at the death, should have put the result beyond doubt in stoppage time after being put through one-on-one with the keeper, but he shot wide.
That miss was forgotten at the final whistle, however, as Flitcroft’s debut victory saw his Bury side jump out of the relegation places, leapfrogging York and moving up to 20th in the table.
BURY: Jensen 9; Cameron 9, Hinds 9, Howell 8; Sedgwick 8, Miller 8, Procter 8, Roberts 8 (Harrison 6 74); Mayor 9 (Grimes 8 54); Forrester 9 (Harrad 87), Nardiello 8. Not used: Holden, Charles-Cook, Walker.
YORK: McCarey; O’Neil, Lowe, McGurk, Davies; Oyebanjo, Whitehouse, Montrose (Platt 46), Carson (Coulson 46); Fletcher, Bowman (Jarvis 68). Not used: Chambers, Fyfield, Ingham, Puri.
Goals: Bury 2 (Forrester 1, Cameron 18) York 1 (Coulson 73).
Yellow cards: Bury – Miller 36. York – Montrose 20, Whitehouse 43, Oyebanjo 70, O’Neil 78, Platt 82.
Referee: Scott Mathieson (Cheshire).
Attendance: 3,706 (925 visiting).
Star man: Anton Forrester – The young Blackburn striker topped a list of stirring performances from the Shakers. A goal in the first minute is always a good fillip, but the 19-year-old striker showed the kind of confidence and maturity that belied both his age and the fact he was starting his first match since mid-October. Frozen out by Ronnie Jepson, the club’s top scorer this season is now heading for a longer stay at the JD Stadium.
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