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Bury Town close the gap on the Pitching In Isthmian League North Division play-offs to three points after beating Heybridge Swifts 1-0





Bury Town moved to within three points of the Pitching In Isthmian League North Division play-off spots after a hard fought 1-0 win against Heybridge Swifts last night.

The Blues signed off from the Atalian Servest Ram Meadow Stadium for 2022 with a victory against a side currently in the top five, with Lewis O’Malley’s 75th-minute header earning the hosts all three points.

It was a 10th clean sheet in all competitions this season for Ben Chenery’s men, who boast the meanest defence in the North Division, and are now up to eighth in the table, three places adrift of Lowestoft Town, in fifth spot.

Bury Town players celebrate breaking the deadlock against Heybridge Swifts last night Picture: Neil Dady
Bury Town players celebrate breaking the deadlock against Heybridge Swifts last night Picture: Neil Dady

It was a patched up side which the Blues boss named for their penultimate game of the calendar year, and last at home, with leading goalscorer Cemal Ramadan among six players out on the sidelines.

The 17-goal forward was ruled out with an illness which also kept defender Will Gardner and midfielder Ryan Jolland out of the squad, as Chenery handed starts to Cruis Nyadzayo, Shaun Avis, Max Maughn and Carlos Edwards.

The bad weather had forced a raft of postponements in the last two weekends, with this pre-Christmas clash the first fixture to be played in the North Division in 10 days.

Meanwhile, Heybridge arrived into Suffolk having been in action on Saturday, losing out on penalties to Vanarama National League South outfit Hungerford Town in the third round of the Isuzu FA Trophy.

Bury's Carlos Edwards gets past his man during their clash with Heybridge Swifts Picture: Neil Dady
Bury's Carlos Edwards gets past his man during their clash with Heybridge Swifts Picture: Neil Dady

With their focus switching back to the league, the Swifts had the chance to climb up to third with a victory, but for most of the night found the Bury defence hard to break through.

The Blues had conceded just 11 goals in 16 league games so far this term, a defensive solidity which would have featured very few errors at the back.

On 11 minutes, a rare lapse in the home defence saw Joe White gift possession to Heybridge striker Ross Wall in the box, with Charlie Woods coming to Bury’s rescue with a fine save to push the ball away.

The Blues back four atoned for the mistake later in the half with White making a last-ditch tackle to pinch the ball away from Wall, before his fellow centre back O’Malley produced a precise sliding tackle in the box, when anything other than perfect would have seen a penalty awarded.

Cruis Nyadzayo receives close attention from the Heybridge defence Picture: Neil Dady
Cruis Nyadzayo receives close attention from the Heybridge defence Picture: Neil Dady

The half ended with Heybridge coming close again when Lee Noble’s corner dropped to the back post and a scramble sent the ball heading towards goal, but Ollie Fenn cleared the danger before it could cross the line.

After the break, two of the four players recalled to the Bury line up, Avis and Maughn, began to link up and create chances at the other end, with the former twice seeing efforts deflected by the Heybridge defence and go out for corners.

Another of the returning quartet, Edwards, also shone during the second half, at one moment having a corner punched away before seconds later being back at the other end to thwart a quick counter attack from the visitors.

In a game of few chances, it felt like the former Ipswich Town captain, now 44, would be involved in creating any breakthrough for the home side, and so it proved with 15 minutes to go.

Joe Yaxley on the ball for Bury last night Picture: Neil Dady
Joe Yaxley on the ball for Bury last night Picture: Neil Dady

A corner from Edwards found a rising O’Malley in the box who beat his marker to the ball and headed home for his first goal for the club.

The goal appeared to give the Blues an extra spring in their step for the final minutes, with the hosts once again showing why their defensive record is so impressive, holding off a late surge in added time from Heybridge to pick up all three points.

It was a welcome return to winning ways for Bury, who now head into back-to-back Suffolk derbies either side of the New Year, starting with a trip to North Division leaders AFC Sudbury on Tuesday next week (1pm).

Bury Town: Woods, Hood, Edwards, Fenn (c), O’Malley, White, Nyadzayo, Maughn, Avis, Yaxley, Nicholls (Barker 79’). Subs not used: Maher, Wilcox, Mills, Boatswain. Booked: Fenn.

Attendance: 404.

Suffolk News man of the match: This accolade was heading towards Carlos Edwards, who showed a calmness on the ball to the envy of most other players, but Lewis O’Malley was involved in two key moments which eventually tipped all the points Bury’s way. A pinpoint tackle in the first half inside his own box and then the match winner in the second half.