A late goal from Bury AFC wasn’t enough as they were narrowly beaten by Squires Gate at the Brian Addison Stadium in a pre-season friendly. The hosts had taken a commanding lead and managed to hold onto the victory despite a later fightback from the travelling side.
It was a good start to the game from both sides, but Bury looked most dangerous as they sought to break the Squires Defence early. Despite coming forward on several occasions in the opening 5-minutes, the away side struggled to unlock the defence while Gate had the best chance as Isaac Abanuwah headed towards goal, but his effort was over the bar.
There wasn’t much goal-mouth action in the opening 10-minutes as both sides battled well in the middle of the park. Bury’s first real opportunity came in the 13th-minute as Adam McWilliam cut inside, only to see his effort comfortably held by the Gate keeper. The visitors got a foothold in the game as they dominated possession and put the Gate defence under pressure. The hosts defended well, before the visitors almost broke the deadlock when Lewis Gilboy picked up the ball in the box, but his shot was well saved by the keeper before McWilliam looked to recycle the ball, but his cross was behind everyone.
Bury continued to dominate as the game reached the 23rd-minute and they were given a great chance to take the lead a couple of minutes later as they were awarded a penalty. McWilliam looked to weave between defenders in the box and was brought down, with the referee not hesitating in pointing to the spot. Tom Greaves stepped up, but the forwards effort was the wrong side of the post and Bury missed a great opportunity to take the lead.
The missed goal was playing on the mind of Bury as Squires Gate broke the deadlock in the 29th-minute. Abanuwah was brought down in the box, down the other end, with the referee pointing to the spot and awarding Gate a penalty themselves. James Boyd stepped up and make no mistake, as he slotted the ball into an empty net, with the keeper diving the wrong way. It didn’t take Gate long before they had a second. Dean Ing collected the ball in the box before turning and firing his shot beyond the keeper.
The game had sparked into life for both sides as the game approached the half-time break. Gate had an attack halted by an offside flag, before Bury went down the other end and pulled one back. The ball was played into the path of Adam McWilliam, who created space for himself before firing beyond the keeper. Bury almost copied the hosts and almost had two within minutes as Greaves looked to lift the ball over the Gate keeper, but his effort was onto the roof of the net and another shot was fired into the ground, making it an easy take for the keeper.
The second half couldn’t have started any better for the hosts as they extended their lead 4-minutes into the second period. James Boyd got his second of the game and Gate’s third as his shot made it beyond the keeper. Bury looked to immediately reply to going two-goals behind as McWilliam carried the ball forward, but his effort was voided by the Gate defending.
Both sides had trialists in their squads and one of Gates, their number 9, looked to make a good impression as he fired a shot toward goal from a tight angle, but it was well saved. The young trialist did well on the left-hand side 5-minutes later as he dribbled beyond a couple of defenders before squaring the ball to Ing, who fired it into the net. Despite finding themselves 4-1 down, Bury continued with their immediate pressure to get a goal right from the restart and their pressure paid off in the 69th-minute as Liam MacDevitt collected the ball in the Gate box and slotted home from close range.
Bury found another foothold in the game as they looked to come back from a huge deficit. MacDevitt was almost in again minutes later as looked to latch onto a ball across the face of goal, but the outstretched forward wasn’t close enough before Jimmy Moore lined up a free-kick from outside the box, but his effort was fired wide. The Shakers dominated possession and chances as the game entered the final 10-minutes, but the high press made them vulnerable to a counter, but Gate couldn’t make them pay.
Both sides battled well and sought more goals, but it was Bury who, again, looked dangerous coming forward. A corner was swung in, but cleared by the hosts before MacDevitt saw his shot blocked. Bury had another goal in the 88th-minute as the ball fell to A. Trialist, with the player firing across the keeper and into the bottom corner. Although there wasn’t much time left, the Shakers still sought an equaliser. They almost had the leveller in the 90th-minute as the ball was fired across the face of goal, but no one was close enough to tap home. The pressure continued into added time, but Gate held onto victory to make the perfect start to their season’s preparations.