FA Cup joy for Bury Town as they see off higher-league Nuneaton Borough at Ram Meadow
There's something about a Tuesday night in front of a sell out Ram Meadow crowd that seems to be inspiring Bury Town at the moment.
Not for the first time this season the Blues gave the majority of the 400-strong attendance plenty to cheer as they knocked higher-league Nuneaton Borough out of the Emirates FA Cup with a 2-0 victory – and in doing so secured their place in the fourth qualifying round for the first time since 2012/13.
There was not much to split the sides during a scrappy first half. The difference – crucially – was that Bury took the opportunities that come their way.
The deadlock was broken in the 33rd minute when Carlos Edwards' free kick from deep on the left was headed goalwards by Olly Hughes. As those in Nuneaton yellow stood and watched, the lively Cemal Ramadan was on the move and he beat visiting goalkeeper Tony Breeden to the loose ball and turned it home from close range.
It got even better just four minutes later, with skipper Hughes turning scorer on this occasion. Only moments earlier he had been denied by the feet of Breeden, but the forward's second effort from 12 yards out seemed to deceive the shot stopper on its way in.
From a Nuneaton perspective, their best chance of the half came before Bury had opened their account. There was 27 minutes on the clock when William Edjenguele wrestled himself free to meet Marcus Kelly's cross, but his powerful header drifted off target.
The second half was all about game management for Bury, who saw chances fall to Ramadan and Hughes in quick succession shortly after the restart. Both were faced with narrow angles, though, and neither could hit the target.
As proceedings wore on Nuneaton predictably started to push for a route back into the tie, but despite their two best openings falling to former Premier League frontman Leroy Lita, a goal was not forthcoming.
In the 58th minute the ex-England Under-21 international looked to have been afforded too much space inside the Bury box, but he hesitated over his shot and Will Gardner retreated to make a telling challenge. He looked sharper nine minutes later as he swivelled and got a shot away from six yards out, but with Joe Rose in the Bury goal struggling, Baris Altintop was there to head clear the danger.
Nuneaton controlled the possession thereafter but faced with an organised Bury rearguard, they were largely restricted to speculative shots from distance.
That frustration told five minutes from time when Joey Kettle was handed his marching orders for a second late challenge on Bury's Max Maughn.
After that it was Bury who looked the more likely to score the tie's third goal as Ramadan fired over and substitute Cruise Nyadzayo shot straight at Breeden, but it mattered little as they saw out the four minutes of stoppage time to put their name in Thursday afternoon's draw.
Bury: Rose, Hood, Gardner, Edwards, Altintop, Hastings, Chambers-Shaw, Snaith, Hughes, Ramadan, Maughn
Suffolk News Man of the Match – Taylor Hastings & Baris Atlintop: Top performance from the centre-back pairing – couldn't split them. Neither missed a header all night and cleared their lines to good effect.