Olly Hughes pleased with Bury Town's defensive qualities as higher-league Nuneaton Borough are knocked out of the FA Cup at Ram Meadow
In this time of great uncertainty, Bury Town supporters must be taking great solace from their trips down to Ram Meadow.
For while we currently live in a world full of restrictions, curfews and a difference of opinions, there is a genuine freedom and togetherness about the way the Blues have gone about their business so far this term.
The latest evidence of this was provided on Tuesday evening when higher-league Nuneaton Borough were knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup thanks to a 2-0 victory.
And make no mistake, this was no fluke. Bury were clinical when it mattered and while their Step 3 visitors did dominate possession in the second half, there was never any feeling that the home side were riding their luck or holding on.
Led by dominant displays from centre-backs Taylor Hastings and Baris Altintop, Bury were well organised and when the time came, they were not shy to put bodies on the line. Credit also to young goalkeeper Joe Rose, who while not overworked still did what was necessary with minimal fuss.
Such stubbornness has been a major theme of Bury’s performances in 2020/21, with five clean sheets and just two goals conceded in seven outings.
And it those levels of resistance that have impressed acting captain Olly Hughes - scorer of the second goal after also playing a key role in the opener.
“Every game is different, but if you’re resilient, defend well and keep clean sheets then you’ve always got agood chance,” he said.
“Defensively the whole team was brilliant, like we have been all season.
“We have worked on being far more resolute, not giving sloppy goals away from set pieces and you saw that tonight – I don’t think we have given away a free header all night.
“It’s been coming for a while. We played well throughout last season despite having a horrible injury list. It’s starting to grow again, but maybe our squad depth is a little more this year.
“We’ve been getting better every season under Ben (Chenery, manager). We’ve been there or thereabouts for a few seasons and being harder to break down is a key part of taking the next step.”
Bury, without unavailable boss Chenery on the sidelines, got the job done against their Warwickshire-based opposition within the space of four first-half minutes.
The clock showed 33 had been played when Hughes rose highest to head on Carlos Edwards’ free kick from deep on the left flank. The Nuneaton defence stood and watched, but Bury’s predatory marksman Cemal Ramadan was on the move to divert the loose ball beyond Tony Breeden in goal.
The celebrations of that opener had barely stopped when Hughes turned scorer to make it 2-0. A few seconds earlier he had been denied by Breeden’s feet, but the Nuneaton goalkeeper had no answer to his low effort from Max Maughn’s cross.
Nuneaton’s two best openings in the second half fell the way of Leroy Lita, but not even a player with plenty of Premier League experience and nine England Under-21 international caps under his belt was going to spoil Bury’s night.
His first opportunity was snuffed out by a last-ditch challenge from Will Gardner, while his second attempt was headed clear from almostoff the line by Altintop.
With their forwards largely restricted to taking pot shots from distance, Nuneaton’s frustration grew as proceedings wore on and it eventually boiled over five minutes from time when Joel Kettle – already on a booking – was given a red card for hacking down Maughn.
Up against 10 men, Bury went in search of a third goal to add further gloss to the scoreline, but Ramadan shot over while substitute Cruise Nyadzayo fired straight at Breeden.
Bury: Rose, Hood, Gardner, Edwards, Altintop, Hastings, Chambers-Shaw (Nyadzayo 77’), Snaith, Hughes, Ramadan, Maughn
Suffolk News Man of the Match – Taylor Hastings & Baris Atlintop
* On Saturday, Ramadan was again on target in Bury’s 1-0 home league win over Dereham Town.
The game ended in controversy with Dereham having a stoppage-time equaliser disallowed, while their boss Adam Gusterson was red carded.
READ MORE: Bury handed away tie in FA Cup