VERDICT: Bury 0 Sheffield United 2
KEVIN Blackwell blamed a bad day at the office as his former employers outmuscled Bury to bring an abrupt end to their mini-revival.
The Shakers went into the game unbeaten in four outings, but the defensive tactics which worked so well against Doncaster and Brentford in their last two matches never looked like containing the Blades.
A first-half strike from Jonathan Forte and a curler from winger Jamie Murphy left Bury five points from safety at the foot of League One.
“I just thought they were two sloppy goals, and you don’t give top teams a lift like that,” said Blackwell.
“But I have to say, I didn’t think we were at the standard we have set ourselves of late.
“It’s no good trying to brush over it. We weren’t as sharp as we have been.
“For whatever reason, sometimes that happens. Even the top teams have days like that.
“If you’re not at it, you make sure you don’t give away cheap goals and I thought they were two cheap goals.”
The plan, as in recent weeks, was for Bury to keep it tight early on, but Forte soon had them on the back foot.
The burly striker, who was a real handful from the off, should have done better in the ninth minute when Ryan Flynn’s low cross found Forte six yards out, but he prodded a weak effort straight at Bury keeper Trevor Carson.
After their early scare, the Shakers slowly worked a foothold in the game, but never offered a great deal going forward.
Nicky Ajose produced one bright moment, forcing Sheffield keeper George Long into a diving save to palm his curling shot around the post.
Moments later, Carson was full stretch at the other end to scramble the ball clear after a Flynn corner was turned goalwards by Blades centre-back Harry Maguire.
When United did finally break the deadlock it came out of the blue following a great piece of skill from Forte.
The Blades forward left Bury centre-backs Ashely Eastham and Stephane Zubar rooted to the spot on 39 minutes.
He controlled a ball, played to him down the left channel, and flicked it infield, between his two markers, in one fluid motion before rifling a low shot into the bottom corner.
Zubar had an ideal chance to make amends on 53 minutes, but the centre-back missed the target after an inswinging Steven Schumacher free-kick found him unmarked at the back post.
The Guadeloupe defender may just have been stretching too much as his side-footed volley sailed over the bar from six yards.
The Shakers were left to rue that missed opportunity on the hour as a United corner was worked back to Murphy on the left.
The midfielder jinked his way into the box before planting a curling right-foot shot into the top corner, which effectively ended the match as a contest.
Despite losing further ground on relegation rivals, the Bury boss remained positive about the direction Bury are heading.
“Every time you come up against a setback like this you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself down and go again,” he said.
“We had this against Tranmere on New Year’s Day, that’s six weeks ago now since our last defeat. So if every six weeks I have a little setback like this, that will do me.”
BURY: Carson 6; Regan 6, Eastham 7, Zubar 6, Skarz 6; Ebanks-Landell 6, Thompson 6; Soares 5, Schumacher 6 (Worrall 63 6), Ajose 6; Bishop 5 (Healy 82).
Not used: C Jones, Carrington, Belford, Carole.
SHEFFIELD UNITED: Long; Higginbotham, Maguire, Doyle, McDonald, Kitson (Ironside 90), Collins, Forte (Robson 74), Murphy, McMahon.
Not used: Westlake, Hill, McFadzean, Coyne, De Girolamo.
Referee: Graham Salisbury.
Attendance: 3,064 (1,056).
Comments are closed on this article.