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VERDICT: Bury 1 Dagenham & Redbridge 1
TWO stunning saves from the Dagenham keeper and a late intervention from the crossbar denied Bury a first win in six matches.
But manager David Flitcroft took plenty of encouragement from a ninth game unbeaten on home turf under his leadership.
On-loan Burton Albion defender Chris Hussey fired Bury ahead on the hour with a goal on his home debut.
Chris Lewington then pulled off a one-handed reflex stop two minutes later to deny Clive Platt a certain goal – an almost carbon copy of a save from Platt just minutes before the break.
But Luke Norris curled home the equaliser against the run of play on 66 minutes and while substitute Andy Procter’s rattled the crossbar with a header from a late Hussey corner, Bury could not secure what would have been a deserved three points.
“To win football matches you have got to score at important times and that second goal kills that team off,” said Flitcroft, pleased at least to bounce back from defeat at bottom-club Torquay in midweek.
“At 2-0 they are dead and buried for me but we’ve played with energy and a real intent and a purpose and on another day, genuinely, I thought we could have scored three, four or five goals.”
Flitcroft admitted the atrocious weather, which left pools of standing water on what he described as a “bog” of a pitch, influenced his decision to switch to a flat back four.
Left-back Hussey dovetailed perfectly on the left with Danny Mayor, while captain Craig Jones put in another lung-busting display on the right of midfield.
Their tireless running and searching crosses provided a real threat, adding to what was a high-quality, end-to-end game, despite the conditions.
Bury’s first effort, however, came from a long ball from full-back Frederic Veseli that Daniel Nardiello nicked in between keeper and defender to get on the end of, but the striker failed to turn his shot on target from a tight angle.
Dagenham’s Abu Ogogo blazed wide after the ball fell at his feet from a corner, while Norris fired a low shot just the wrong side of the post.
But the Shakers had the real pick of the first-half chances as they got on top in the closing 20 minutes.
Nardiello was unlucky to see a shot blocked after creating space for himself in the box, while Jim McNulty was inches away from connecting with a Jones flick-on at the back post from a Hussey corner.
Lewington then made the first of his saves to deny Platt from point-black range after the veteran striker turned a Nardiello pull-back goalwards.
A double half-time substitution from Daggers boss Wayne Burnett did have some effect, as Jensen was twice called upon to make telling interceptions after they breached the Bury back-line.
But Hussey’s opener changed the momentum of the game once again, as the defender read a neat reverse pass from Mayor on the left edge of the Dagenham box before surging to the touchline and beating Lewington with a low drive at his near post.
Two minutes later Platt found himself in space 10 yards out but the Daggers keeper palmed away his shot with a strong arm.
And the visitors made the most of that let-off as Norris ran into the Bury box before opening up his body and curling a right-footed shot past Jensen and into the bottom corner.
That’s how it stayed, but Procter’s powerful header could easily have changed that, bouncing down off the woodwork just the wrong side of the Dagenham goal line.
With second-bottom Northampton also drawing, Flitcroft was not too dispirited by the dropped points as Bury maintained their four-point cushion above the relegation places.
“We came up with something that represented me more as a person,” he said. “The Torquay result didn’t, but I thought there was a fight and an energy about us and a real potency in performance, apart from just that last little bit.
“But it’s another game we have not been beaten here and it’s another game chalked off for the chasing pack who are trying to get over us in the league.”
BURY: Jensen 7; Veseli 8, Mills 8, McNulty 6; Jones 8, Sedgwick 7, Tutte 6 (Procter 7 72), Hussey 8; Mayor 7 (Young 90); Platt 6 (Akpa Akpro 6 76), Nardiello 7.
Not used: Hinds, Grimes, Carroll, Charles-Cook.
DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE: Lewington; Hoyte, Doe, Saah, Connors (Ilesanmi 46); Chambers (Bingham 87), Ogogo, D'Ath (Azeez 46), Howell; Elito; Norris.
Not used: Dickson, Shields, Gayle, Seabright.
Goals: Bury (Hussey 60) Dagenham & Redbridge (Norris 66).
Yellow cards: Dagenham & Redbridge – Connors 9.
Referee: David Webb (County Durham).
Attendance: 2,705 (103 visiting).
Star man: Chris Hussey – David Flitcroft admitted he thought he had signed the wrong Chris Hussey after a below-par display in his first outing at Southend following a loan move from Burton Albion. But the full-back looked a completely different prospect on his home debut, surging down the left, combining well with Danny Mayor, to put in a string of telling crosses. The 25-year-old defender then showed he can finish with a powerful, accurate shot to open up his Bury account. His set-piece delivery almost proved telling as well, with Andy Procter heading his late corner against the crossbar. Flitcroft believes there is at least another 30 per cent to come from the youngster, and on this showing that would make him a real asset.
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