Bury continued their rich vein of form beating Pilkington FC 3-2 away in St Helens but the victory came at a cost, writes James Beedie.

The Shakers had thumped Skelmersdale United 10-1 the previous week - a new club record victory -but had lost key players Tom Moore and Charlie Doyle.

Neither would make the squad for this contest, and so Dave McNabb handed first starts to Oli Kilner and Jacob Holland-Wilkinson.

The match was played between the two sides at opposite ends of the form table and Bury started the match brightly. Holland-Wilkinson had come off the bench to score a hat-trick on his debut and in his first start harried the Pilkington defence down the right wing. In an early chance he brought a long ball down on his chest and beat his marker but the finish touch was lacking. There were chances for either side with Andy Scarisbrick seeing a shot blocked and Pilks forward Adam Bott firing wide before the deadlock was broken.

An inswinging Billy Reeves corner kick eluded the Pilkington defence and came all the way to Andy Briggs to knock in Bury’s opener and secure his twentieth goal of the campaign.

Briggs nearly had a quick second goal, the ball squared to him by Holland-Wilkinson but Bury’s top scorer fired wide of the post.

The Shakers wouldn’t have to wait much longer for their next goal. After peppering the Pilkington box with crosses from either side from the likes of Butterworth and Comber the home defence knocked the ball away for another corner. This time Gaz Peet took the set piece sending the ball long beyond the far post where an unmarked Oli Jepson was waiting. The Bury centre back sent a header over Pilkington keeper Jake Hilton into the back of the net doubling Bury’s lead.

It wasn’t just the away side that profited from corner kicks, less than two minutes after Jepson’s goal Pilkington had claimed one back. This time the corner was flicked on at the near post by Callum Lees and Gabriel Ellis left with time and space gave Bury keeper Harry Wright no chance.

Still only thirteen minutes on from the opening goal of the day Bury grabbed their third and the fourth goal of the match. A great throughball by Daniels set Holland-Wilkinson free down the right. His cross found Briggs again in acres of space and he headed in his second of the match to regain the Shakers’ two goal advantage.

From there the match took a turn. Already missing two key players from the last match Bury were rocked by another injury as Oli Jepson fell clutching his knee after an aerial challenge. With no other defenders in the squad Arthur Lomax-Jones was brought on with midfielder Jordan Butterworth deputising in defence.

The loss of both starting centre backs will no doubt cause a headache for manager Dave McNabb as the season turns into the final straight and without Jepson or Moore the defence looked more fragile than it has done in a long time. Pilkington should have scored a second shortly before halftime Liam Bott afforded a free header from six yards out somehow glanced his effort wide of the post.

The pressure continued to pile up on the Bury defence through the second half with the Merseyside club looking increasingly confident going forward. The closest Pilkington came in the early part of the second half was a free kick that was blocked by Butterworth and cleared away in a busy penalty area.

There was a palpable sense that Bury needed a fourth goal to cement their lead but the last goal just wouldn’t come. A Lomax-Jones cross found Daniels whose header found its way to Briggs who twice had a shot blocked on the line with the keeper beaten. Another Lomax-Jones cross found Scarisbrick, his shot was deflected wide while a later long range effort by Daniels was tipped round the post by Hilton. From the resulting corner kick Daniels has a certain goal denied by Hilton again diving low to his right to scoop a headed effort off the line.

Bury looked to have done enough for the win with time close to expiring however an uncommon mistake by Comber losing the ball under little pressure allowed Pilkington a slither of hope. Adam Gilchrist pounced on the loose ball just outside the Bury box and beat Wright at his near post reducing Bury’s lead to just one goal as stoppage time ticked by.

It didn’t prove to be a fatal error however as the final whistle rang out securing another three points for the Shakers. It was Bury’s sixth win in a row and their eighth victory in nine league matches. A great run of form for Bury but one they will have to maintain likely until the end of a very tightly contested season.