VERDICT: Exeter City 2 Bury 2
CARETAKER boss Ronnie Jepson has refused to curb his players’ attacking instincts despite seeing his Bury side twice relinquish a lead at Exeter City.
The Shakers went ahead through an early goal in each half, as Danny Nardiello bagged his second in as many matches in the 15th minute and centre-back Nathan Cameron headed Bury 2-1 up two minutes after the break.
But each time the home side were allowed back into the game – David Wheeler volleying them level in the 41st minute and second-half substitute Tom Nichols scoring a second equaliser with 13 minutes remaining.
Yet Jepson refused to be too critical of his players for failing to hang on to their advantage.
“We don’t come away from home and go 4-5-1 and shut up shop, we play 4-4-2, say this is us and we are having a go,” he said after the final whistle.
“We want to win games, we are set up to win games, we are not negative, and I thought the lads deserved three points.
“The supporters who came down must have been happy with that performance.”
Bury would have guaranteed their first back to back victories for more than a year if they had been able to finish off the raft of chances that came their way.
After opening his Bury account in the 1-0 win at Hartlepool last Tuesday, Nardiello must have thought he could do no wrong when his weak early shot seemed to go straight through Exeter keeper Artur Krysiak.
The Grecians stopper quickly made amends, clawing a close-range effort from Danny Hylton off the line.
Hylton broke clear on the half hour but pulled his shot wide and Exeter made Bury pay when Wheeler met John O’Flynn’s cross with a crisp left-footed finish.
Undaunted, the Shakers edged back in front with Cameron’s header from a Chris Sedgwick corner.
And, after Andy Procter – only playing because Tommy Miller was withdrawn through illness moments before kick-off – saw a header tipped over, Tom Soares looked to have doubled Bury's advantage from the resulting corner.
His scrambled effort seemed to go over the line before being handled by Exeter midfielder Matt Grimes, but referee Stephen Martin waved away claims for either a goal or a penalty.
Exeter boss Paul Tisdale was roundly booed for his decision to replace Wheeler with young Nichols, but it proved a masterstroke as the youngster finished off an intense period of pressure for the Grecians with a close-range header.
Both sides then had chances to win it, with Nardiello for Bury and Nichols for Exeter missing the target with headers when they should have done better.
The failure to ram home their advantage saw Bury miss the chance to move up three places in League Two, but they remain 20th in the table after stretching their unbeaten run to five matches.
EXETER CITY: Krysiak; Butterfield, Coles (Nichols 72), Bennett, Woodman; Wheeler (Davies 72), Gill, M Grimes, Sercombe, Gow; O’Flynn (Parkin 46). Not used: Pimm, Baldwin, Keohane, Doherty.
BURY: Jensen 7; Beeley 8, Cameron 7, Edjenguele 6, Howell 6; C Jones 7, Procter 7, Soares 7, Sedgwick 7 (Mayor 80); Hylton 7, Nardiello 7. Not used: Lainton, Hinds, Miller, Holden, Harrad, Reindorf.
Goals: Exeter City 2 (Wheeler 41, Nichols 77) Bury 2 (Nardiello 15, Cameron 47)
Yellow cards: Bury – Nathan Cameron 50.
Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire).
Attendance: 3,426 (123 visiting).
Star man: Shaun Beeley – The on-loan Fleetwood Town right-back has rarely put a foot wrong all season in a defence that has been shaky at times. Quite what could have gone on at his parent club for him to be farmed out on loan is difficult to comprehend, but I can not imagine any Bury fan complaining. Beeley ran himself to a standstill again on Saturday and put his body on the line to make some late blocks despite clearly struggling with an knee injury.
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