Guentchev breaks Bury hearts and sends Lowestoft into the final
A PIECE of individual brilliance from Lubomir Guentchev proved the only thing that could separate these two local giants as Lowestoft finally overcame their Bury Town hoodoo.
The man with the famous name in these parts – his father was Ipswich Town fans favourite Bontcho – tricked his way through a sea of blue on the edge of the Bury area before poking home the winner.
It was no more than both player and side deserved as the Trawlerboys carved out a number of great chances, even if Bury keeper Marcus Garnham often went untested.
The visitors will point to an amazing four golden chances inside the first 90 seconds of the second half, before Chris Henderson turned in Sam Reed’s cross to equalise Adrian Forbes opener.
Lowestoft, who have tasted promotion in two consecutive seasons, will now hope to complete a remarkable treble in Saturday’s final against Tonbridge Angels in their bid to play Blue Square Bet South football next season.
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With the sides separated by just one point this season, and with so much at stake, the tense, nervy opening half an hour was understandable as much as predictable.
There were moments, with impressive Lowestoft keeper Andy Reynolds scrambling a Sam Reed shot away that was destined for the bottom corner.
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Slowly, the visitors started to exert themselves with Bury woefully missing the experience of midfield pair James Scowcroft and Neil Andrews.
But although Lowestoft, prompted by wingers Guentchev and Joe Francis, created great openings, they were too often guilty of failing to trouble the Bury goal.
Guentchev was a big culprit, but so was Francis who horribly scuffed a decent chance before drilling a low shot just wide of the far post.
Just as Bury boss Richard Wilkins might have been hoping his brave side could hold on till the break, the inevitable happened.
Andrew Cave-Brown headed into the danger zone and Forbes took advantage of hesitancy from Garnham to turn the ball goalwards with Sam Nunn unable to prevent the opening goal in the 41st minute.
It was no more than Lowestoft deserved and they came out in the second half flying, determined to put the semi-final to bed.
In an incredible opening two minutes, Forbes was denied a tap-in by Nunn’s clearance before Sam Gaughran headed over.
Guentchev then forced Garnham into a flying save before Nunn cleared a second Gaughran header from the line.
With Bury reeling, they amazingly forced an equaliser just seconds after a second Lowestoft goal seemed inevitable.
The ball broke to S Reed, down the right and criminally unmarked, who sped down the wing before crossing for Henderson to score from close range.
It was just what the game needed with the second half producing a fantastically exciting display of football, backed by incredible atmosphere among the 1400-plus inside Ram Meadow.
The cup tie got the winner it deserved in the 66th minute, with some wonderful ingenuity from Guentchev. The Bury defence failed to properly clear a series of high balls and the right winger danced his way through the defence before poking the ball past Garnham.
But Bury weren’t finished. Gaughran cleared Roscoe Hipperson’s goalbound header and Kieran Leabon saw his cross-shot parried by Reynolds but the ball fell to a Lowestoft man.
It was the kind of luck the Trawlerboys just about deserved. Having not scored or won against Bury in the three league and cup matches this season, they finally broke their duck – in the game that mattered.