A second half brace from Max Harrop and another goal from Andy Briggs secured Bury a comfortable victory over AFC Liverpool at Gigg Lane, writes James Beedie.

With three home matches in the penultimate week of the season Bury could afford no slip ups at this crucial point in the season and manager Dave McNabb named a strong side.

After coming off the bench to score twice Connor Comber was handed a start alongside Jacob Holland-Wilkinson and Max Harrop in a front three. Defender Aaron Morris made his home debut while stalwarts Andy Briggs and Oli Jepson had places on the bench having missed out at Prestwich.

Bury started the match on the front foot with a few early chances, Comber getting on the end of a Keenan Ferguson cross could only find the roof of the net with a looping effort while both Comber and Harrop attempted outside the box shots that went wide of the goal.

Though it was always busier in the AFC Liverpool half Bury couldn’t afford to let standards drop at the back and what chances the visitors did have largely came from defensive errors.

A weak pass back had Harry Wright charging out to clear the ball, he succeeded in cannoning the ball off the oncoming forward to earn a goal kick but a second later and Bury would likely have conceded.

Later a deep cross came into the Bury box that Ferguson attempted to clear, his effort fizzed past his own goalpost and went out for a corner, inches away from a spectacular own goal.

Finally an interception in the Bury backline led to a shot from Tom Croughan that Wright pushed around the post as the Shakers had to fight to keep their clean sheet.

Late in the half Charlie Doyle fired a curling shot that could only find the side netting. It was a great flowing move by the Shakers met with a fierce shot that missed the target summing up the first half but if anyone was feeling nervous after the opening period it was made right early in the second half.

Max Harrop had been the danger man throughout the first half and delivered on his promise in the 50th minute. Fed the ball by Ferguson he turned his marker inside out, weaved between two defenders before squeezing a shot into the gap that found its way into the bottom corner. Harrop, a graduate of the Bury youth system scoring his first goal for the Shakers.

Bury ought to have quickly doubled their advantage when Tom Moore was presented with a free header from a corner, his attempt was off target but deflected away for another corner. Moore won the aerial battle again and the ball fell to Comber who cleared the bar from very close range.

The pressure on AFC Liverpool’s defence never relented. Harrop and Comber harassed the defence from the wings while a Reeves cross was headed over by Holland-Wilkinson.

Comber thought he was through in on goal from a quick counterattack but was brought down from behind in a cynical foul by Jenson Butterworth. The second Bury goal was coming and it came from the scorer of the first.

Max Harrop with the ball at his feet wasn’t challenged by a Reds defence expecting Harrop to feed the ball to another of the forwards. Unchallenged Harrop stepped forward and well outside the box attempted a long range shot into the bottom corner. It swept past the defence and evaded the reach of keeper David Parkinson and rippled the back of the net securing Bury’s lead.

The Shakers substitutes were getting in on the act as well. From one corner Dean Pinnington had a stinging volley well saved by Parkinson while from another the initial effort was cleared only as far as Pinnington who crossed the ball back in and found Andy Briggs who comfortably headed home from close range.

The Shakers continued to push for further goals knowing that the title might well be decided on goal difference but there were no further goals for the division’s top scorers just a well deserved clean sheet.

The first of three home matches ended in victory but results elsewhere confirmed that Bury will need to remain on top form to have any chance of claiming the title.