Bury 0-0 Burton Albion
A second consecutive goalless draw on the road maintained Burton Albion's place in the top three of Skybet League 2 and who knows how important this hard earned point could turn out to be come the end of the season. Bury are in transition after a change of manager and with several new players eager to impress this was never going to be an easy assignment for Gary Rowett's side especially after their exertions in the FA Cup in midweek. Daniel Nardiello spurned the best chances for Bury whilst Jimmy Phillips and Adam McGurk went close for Albion, mainly in the first half.
The inclusion of Zeli Ismail and Robbie Weir were the only change to the side that went out of the Cup at Bournemouth in the week. The on loan Wolves winger who impressed after coming on as a substitute against Cheltenham Town last weekend came into the starting line-up at the expense of Adam Buxton on the right side of midfield while Weir was restored to the middle of the park with Lee Bell dropping back to the bench.
Bury came flying of the traps and had the first corner of the game after just 20 seconds. Whilst Albion dealt with it they remained under pressure and the Shakers were perhaps unlucky not to be awarded a free kick in the 'D' when Damien McCrory appeared to block off Tommy Miller.
Ismail quickly showed his skill and trickery with a teasing run along the bye line to win a corner. McGurk almost got onto the end of a through ball from Phil Edwards shortly afterwards after a good dummy from Billy Kee but it was Bury who fashioned the next chance. A neat exchange of passes on the right gave Ashley Grimes the chance to dart inside and get a shot away that was blocked by Zander Diamond on the edge of the box.
After weathering the early Bury storm Albion went closest yet to the opening goal when Zander Diamond's header from a Matty Palmer corner was blocked on the line and as Albion pressed from the rebound Kee saw a shot from the edge of the box fly wide.
Continuing his mpressive start to the match Ismail found time to make a bursting run to get onto Phillips pass but just as he pulled the trigger from fifteen yards left back Jim McNulty made a vital block to deny him. McGurk then tested Brian Jensen with a rising shot from the edge of the area but the big ex-Burnley keeper held on well.
Ismail should probably have done better and given Albion the lead on 25 minutes. Phillips worked himself a good crossing opportunity and Robbie Weir rose early in the box to meet it but his header fell at the feet of the Wolves youngster whose stinging volley flew over.
Bury were quick to respond and Grimes should probably have tested Dean Lyness more with a curling shot after he was found in space just inside the box by Miller. Albion were soon back on the attack though and when Palmer was adjudged to have been fouled level with the edge of the penalty area it gave McGurk the chance to swing in a cross that Phil Edwards got too much purchase on as it flew over the bar.
The Shakers came strong again as the half wore on and a lung bursting run from Craig Jones was only ended when Ian Sharps intercepted his attempted through ball and when Chris Sedgwick jjinked his way into the box his teasing cross eluded everyone in the middle to give Albion a lucky escape.
As the game rapidly switched to the other end McGurk let fly from 20 yards with Jensen flying to his right to watch it go just wide. Jimmy Philliips also had Jensen scrambling when his shot from the edge of the area looped up off a defender to also drop just wide earning Albion a late corner that Bury survived with Albion on top as the half time whistle sounded.
Half time: Bury 0-0 Burton Albion
Bury again won a corner in the opening stages of the half and again Albion were able to eventually get the ball clear before Albion went on the attack again and after Jensen held onto Phillips' curling effort the keeper was relieved to see Pablo Mills get an important block on Billy Kee's goalbound shot as Phillips this time turned provider.
Bury's response was for Anton Forrester to burst clear as the Shakers won a midfield battle but under pressure the striker flashed a left foot shot over the crossbar. A good passing move again gave Bury the chance to run at Burton with Danny Nardiello this time having the Burton backline retreating but his touch evaded him at the crucial moment, a tame effort trickling through safely to Lyness.
Bury made the first change on 59 minutes and it was Forrester who made way. The hard working frontman was replaced by the lanky Temitope Obadeyi. The Shakers were as close as they had been to a goal on 64 minutes when Nardiello managed to wriggle free of a challenge on the angle of the box but as he drove towards goal the angle narrowed against him and Lyness was able to block his near post effort with his legs.
Alnion quickly made a double change that saw Ismail and Kee withdrawn and Dominic Knowles and Chris Hussey introduced. It also brought a change of shape as the Brewers moved to a 4-5-1 with Hussey on the left, McGurk moving to the right and Phillips taking up a more central role leaving Knowles as the only out and out striker.
The goal hero from last week was unable to pounce on a headed chance as Albion produced a flowing move that had both Phillips and Edwards sending in teasing crosses before the young striker strained to nod the ball wide of the post.
Nardiello spurned a glorious opportunity for the hosts on 79 minutes as he rode a couple of challenges and as he went to cut inside a third his shot, delayed a little too long was blocked by Edwards who clattered Zander Diamond in completing his clearance.
Lee Bell was the final throw of the dice for the Brewers with a little over five minutes remaining. He replaced McGurk who was limping after going over moments before.
Knowles and Palmer hustled and bbustled late on to try and get a breakthrough but Palmer's attempts to win the ball were deemed over zealous by referee Ollie Langford who then produced a yellow card, the first of the game, deep into stoppage time for Frederic Veseli who brought Phillips run down the left to an abrupt halt. Philliips had one late chance to win it with a stumbling shot that drifted wide but an away point is always welcome and keeps Albion firmly in the battle for promotion.