Gallery & report: Bury Town lose to Wingate & Finchley

Bury Town striker Joe Benjamin is brought down

Bury Town striker Joe Benjamin is brought down - Credit: Archant

Ryman League Premier Bury Town 1 Wingate & Finchley 2 Bury Town may have lost again, but don’t be fooled by this result – the Blues showed enough character, and spirit, to suggest that they still have a fighting chance of beating the drop.

The stark reality is that, with more than half the season already behind them, Ben Chenery’s side are rock bottom of the Ryman Premier, with just three wins from 25 league games. They are seven points adrift of safety.

But it would have been so easy for Bury to fold, like a pack of cards, after conceding two goals and being reduced to 10 men inside the first 12 minutes of Saturday’s showdown at a chilly Ram Meadow.

After Rob Laney had fired Wingate & Finchley into a third minute lead, the visitors doubled their lead just nine minutes later through David Knight’s penalty, after Bury right-back Callum Bennett had been sent off for a professional foul.

A home thrashing looked a distinct possibility, with an out-of-sorts Bury facing the final 78 minutes with just 10 men, already trailing by two goals to a side harbouring hopes of reaching the play-offs.

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But the Suffolk hosts dug in for the rest of the half, and then proceeded to dominate the second period.

The hard-working Joe Benjamin halved the deficit in the 53rd minute, and Wingate were visibly rattled as Bury went in search of an equaliser.

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In the end, that leveller proved elusive, so condemning Bury to a 16th league defeat of the season.

But in truth they deserved a point, and manager Chenery at least has something positive to build on over the weeks and months ahead. His side are not doomed yet.

Unfortunately, they ultimately gave themselves too much to do, following a dismal opening 12 minutes to the game.

Wingate front-runner Laney burst clear of the Bury defence, and shrugged off the challenge of centre-half Connor Hall, before tucking home a shot from a narrow angle past the onrushing Alex Archer.

One-up inside three minutes, Wingate were buzzing when Laney latched onto another superb through ball, this time by Stuart Lake, and was promptly upended by Bennett.

It was a clear-cut penalty, and an easy decision for referee Alan Dale to send off Bennett for a professional foul – there were no other defenders nearby.

Knight converted the ensuing spot kick, and the Wingate winger was close to making it 3-0 in the 15th minute with a ferocious shot that was well saved by Archer.

It continued to be one-way traffic, and left-back Seb Dunbar did well to clear a cross by Knight off his goal-line on 40 minutes.

But it was all change in the second half, with Joe Whight making a difference as a half-time substitute.

Benjamin crashed a 20-yarder wide in the 48th minute, which signalled Bury’s intent, and five minutes later the home striker had reduced the arrears. The alert Benjamin charged down keeper Bobby Smith’s attempted clearance, and was presented with the simple chance of slotting home the rebound into an unguarded net.

Bury were agonisingly close to grabbing an equaliser in the 62nd minute. Benjamin scurried onto Dunbar’s exquisite through ball and managed to lob the onrushing Smith, only for the ball to roll inches wide of the far post.

The Blues had their tails up. Russell Short had a shot charged down, from close range, following Whight’s 65th minute corner, while Benjamin was denied late on by a fine save from Smith.

Wingate were hanging on at the end, and Bury must take heart from this in their quest to stay up.

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