VERDICT: Bury 2 Stevenage 0
BURY gave their faint hopes of League One survival a boost after hauling themselves off the bottom of the table with two goals in the final seven minutes.
Craig Jones and Jonson Clarke-Harris showed perfect timing to not only score their first goals for Bury but also their first in league football to end a run of three consecutive defeats.
The three points, which cost Stevenage manager Gary Smith his job, had not looked on the cards after Steven Schumacher had a weak penalty saved in the first half and, moments later, Jones missed an absolute sitter.
But the 26-year-old former TNS midfielder made amends, breaking the deadlock on 83 minutes before on-loan Peterborough teenager Clarke-Harris coolly slotted in a breakaway goal in the final minute.
Schumacher believed the late flourish was just reward for a hard-working Bury side that may have failed to match Saturday’s level of performance but deserved a change in fortune after their desperate luck against Colchester.
“Sometimes you get what you deserve and other times you don’t,” said the 28-year-old Bury captain.
“I don’t think we got what we deserved on Saturday. Obviously, we created enough chances to win five or six games, and tonight we continued to create those chances and probably our worst one made the first goal, so happy days.”
The Shakers’ top goalscorer must have been a relieved man when Jones’s late toe- poke found the back of the net after committing what he described as the “cardinal sin” with his penalty.
Schumacher won the spot-kick after being tripped by midfielder Gavin Mahon in the 18th minute, but said he changed his mind mid run-up, choosing to side-foot it rather than blast it, and Stevenage stopper Steve Arnold guessed the right way to palm his weak effort to safety.
The Bury playmaker then put a 30-yard volley narrowly over before Jones skied what looked like an unmissable opportunity – the unmarked midfielder had all the time in the world to pick his spot from six yards out after an Andy Bishop effort rebounded back to him off the keeper.
“Sometimes you feel as though there’s a forcefield in front of the goal – it’s embarrassing some of the chances that we’ve missed,” said Schumacher.
“I actually started laughing (when Craig Jones missed an open goal). In the situation we’re in you shouldn’t really be laughing, but sometimes you can’t do anything else but have a little chuckle.”
Thankfully, Bury for once had the last laugh, although, after briefly going off the boil, Lucas Akins could have easily put Stevenage ahead with a close-range effort that drifted just past the post with little over 20 minutes to go.
This time, however, the Shakers found a clinical edge as Jones redirected an Ethan Ebanks-Landell drive past the stranded Arnold and then substitute Clarke-Harris showed his pace to break the offside trap and tuck a Schumacher through-ball into the bottom corner.
The win moved Bury up two places, but they are still six points adrift of safety after Oldham moved out of the bottom four following their 3-0 victory over relegation rivals Hartlepool.
BURY: Carson 7; Ebanks-Landell 8, Sodje 7 (Mezague 77), Eastham 6, Skarz 7; C Jones 8, Carrington 6, Schumacher 6, Worrall 6; Fagan 6 (Ajose 90+1), Bishop 7 (Clarke-Harris 76).
Subs: Regan, Belford, Thompson.
STEVENAGE: Arnold, Gray, Roberts, Ngala, Hills (Comminges 51); Dunne, Grant, Mahon, Akins, Lopez (Tansey 70), Beleck (Charles 46).
Subs: Freeman, Day, Hoskins, Shroot.
Referee: Tony Bates.
Attendance: 1,396 (44 visiting).
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