BURY AFC returned to action with a 3-1 win against Garstang at the Neuven Stadium that sees them top the tree at Christmas.

Tom Greaves opened the scoring 10 minutes in on the resumption of the North West Counties First Division North season on Saturday.

His goal was soon cancelled out by Josh Winder but Greaves restored the advantage from the penalty spot on the hour before Alex O’Keefe made sure of the victory late in the piece.

Andy Welsh’s side started on the front foot, Greaves having an early half-volley easily saved by Garstang goalkeeper Michael Donlon and several set-piece chances coming from the boot of captain Scott Metcalfe.

But then when Greg Daniels’ cross found Greaves, his low header was enough to divert the ball past the keeper to get the phoenix club up and running.

The lead would not last long however, as Garstang came into the game with a long ball forward finding Wilder, who managed to evade a challenge by Jonathan Hunt and slot the ball past Kai Calderbank-Park to bring the Riversiders level.

From there, the first half belonged to the boys in red, who utilised the same tactic of turning the Bury defence with quick passing and counter-attacking play to try and break through, with right-back Danny Birch making a great run, but his final touch let him down and Calderbank-Park saved.

Bury’s best chance would come from set-pieces as the half came to a close, whereas Garstang continued to press forward with some great chances falling to both Andrew Murphy and Jonathon Hothersall, some last-ditch defending preventing the visiting team from taking the lead into the break.

However, the second half was a totally different story, as Bury came out strongly with Aiden Chippendale and Tony Whitehead both testing Donlon’s gloves with crosses and chances aplenty.

The big opportunity to take the lead again came on the hour mark when referee Joe Cunningham spotted a stray Garstang arm in the area and pointed to the spot.

As with the reverse fixture a matter of weeks ago, it was a job for one man, Greaves, who scored a hat-trick of penalties the last time these two sides met. And this time it was no different, he stepped up calmly and slotted it past the keeper to his left and put AFC back into the lead with his 13th of the season.

And the game was not done there, despite chances at both ends, the final blow came with substitute O’Keefe latching onto a long ball forward, the frontman taking a touch to beat a defender before firing home a fine half-volley for the league leaders.

Bury AFC: Calderbank-Park, Williams, Metcalfe, Valentine, Hunt, Moore, Dwyer (O’Keefe 66), Whitehead, Greaves, Daniels, Chippendale (MacDevitt 74). Subs not used: Halfacre, Gilboy, Downing.