SLIPSHOD Town got an earbashing from manager Lee Clark after a lacklustre 1-1 draw with Bury at Gigg Lane.
Graham Carey’s well-struck opener on 11 minutes was the highlight for 542 Town fans in a crowd of 1,704 on a day when things simply wouldn’t click for the new-look Galpharm squad.
That was illustrated perfectly on 29 minutes when Andy Bishop was allowed a simple near-post header from Michael Jones’ in-swinging corner to level matters in decisive style.
By then, Town had lost leading scorer Jordan Rhodes to a sliding challenge from big Ben Futcher and they’ll be hoping his left-leg injury is not as serious as it first appeared.
Rhodes was carried from the field on a stretcher and later left the ground on crutches – worrying when he’s your 23-goal top scorer from last season and when he’s already bagged three times in pre-season.
At least it gave an early opportunity for Robbie Simpson to show what he could do alongside Theo Robinson, but the bulk of Town’s most enterprising play came from Carey on the left wing, before he switched to left wing-back in the second half.
The Celtic man looked sharp and hungry, and he gave Bury’s trialist right-back Dwayne Samuels a torrid time, supplying several telling crosses which went close to bringing further success.Related content
The 21-year-old Dubliner had already had one effort charged down by Futcher on nine minutes by the time he opened the scoring, benefiting when skipper Nathan Clarke was pushed off making a challenge for Lee Croft’s corner.
As the ball dropped to Carey near the edge of the box, he unleashed a low left-foot drive which found the centre of the net after eluding the unsighted keeper Cameron Belford.
It was just the start Town wanted, and Carey was perilously close to extending the lead from a direct free-kick three minutes later, but his effort curled inches wide of the left upright with Belford motionless.
While Andy Haworth looked dangerous for Bury, Alex Smithies had little to do, so it was doubly disappointing Town should concede from a set piece. It seemed to rock Town, and their passing, movement and urgency was nowhere near at the level Clark would have wanted in a first friendly against full-professional opposition.
A couple of low crosses from Carey caused the League II side – including ex-Town men Efe Sodje and left-back Joe Skarz – some problems, and the winger saw a low shot blocked wide just two minutes before the break.
Clark changed the system nine minutes into the second half, making six substitutions and going to three centre backs with Peter Clarke and Jamie McCombe operating alongside Antony Kay, who has played at the back in all the friendlies so far.
There were some encouraging interludes from Chris Atkinson, but with Bury also making a stack of changes the shape went out of the game and both sides became stagnant.
Each, however, fashioned chances to win the game – the best falling to Town on 79 minutes.
Bury failed to clear an initial corner and, when the ball was whipped back in, Kay challenged well for a Simpson flick.
The fall fell invitingly for McCombe in a yard of space and he struck the volley well, but Belford made a tremendous blocking save diving to his right.
Bury’s chance of a winner came four minutes from time when David Worrall cut in from the right and unleashed a 25-yard drive which Smithies alertly parried away.
Town – Smithies, Peltier, Naysmith (P Clarke 54), Gudjonsson (Roberts 54), Kay, N Clarke (McCombe 54), Arfield (Atkinson 54), Croft (Pilkington 54), Robinson (Hunt 54), Rhodes (Simpson 21), Carey. Subs not used: Bennett, Ridehalgh, Chippendale.
Bury – Belford, Samuels (Picken HT), Skarz, Futcher, Sweeney (Harrop 70), Schumacher (Alexsis 75), Bishop (Jones 70), Haworth (Worrall 61), Jones (Bennett 61), Lowe (Hudson 70), Sodje (Carlton 70). Sub not used: Branagan.
Referee – Dave Foster (Bury).
Attendance – 1,704 (542 away).