BOTTOM line for manager Peter Jackson and a magnificent following of fans was the fact that this was a miserable result.

Town were highly fancied to win at Gigg Lane and build on the home success against Bristol Rovers, but they blew it.

Despite seeing more of the ball, controlling much of the second half and equalising through Paul Scott's first senior goal, the wheels came off when Efe Sodje saw red for his raised-arm challenge on substitute Joe O'Neil.

It was a needless contact as keeper Glyn Garner's clearance went straight through to Ian Gray, but referee André Marriner viewed it as a punch and Sodje was sent off for violent conduct.

Having led from the 24th minute to the 73rd thanks to Danny Swailes' soft back-post header, Bury were in no mood to waste 15 minutes with a man advantage.

Jackson sacrificed the hard-working Andrew Holdsworth to get David Mirfin into the heart of defence, but Town's heartbreak was complete eight minutes from time.

Ex-McAlpine man Ben Thornley - who had curled in the free-kick from which Swailes scored - was again the instigator with a pacy break and shot.

It should have been easy pickings for Town keeper Gray, who had not had too much to do, but he let the ball slip and substitute Lee Connell, who had been on the pitch only two minutes, took full advantage.

At that point, many of Town's 2,000-plus following headed for the exits because they knew there was no way back.

Had O'Neil and fellow sub Simon Whaley capitalised on late chances it would only have rubbed unnecessary salt into Town wounds because the damage had been done.

What further damage will be wrought on Town's season during Sodje's three-match absence only time will tell.

He has been a consistent quality performer in an early run of matches which have not yielded as many points as they should.

His pace will be sorely missed, although Jackson has Steve Yates on the comeback trail, talented back-up in the likes of Mirfin and Nathan Clarke and a man in superb form at the moment - Paul Scott.

He was a tower of strength once again at Gigg Lane, where Town missed the aerial ability and outlet of striker Andy Booth, and Scott's delight at equalising was illustrated in a jubilant slide on his knees to celebrate in front of the Town fans.

At that moment, it looked like there was going to be only one winner, because Town had overcome a dodgy first half and had been pressing forward with threat.

It was a well below-par Town performance, despite the graft in midfield of Jon Worthington, Holdsworth (who did well) and the excellent Tony Carss, but it appeared they might still have enough to get the job done.

Jackson - denied the option of illness victim Nat Brown on the bench - certainly felt so and elected not to use a substitute until Sodje's misdemeanour.

Bury were no easy touch and difficult to break down, so it was a disappointment Town didn't show more composure with the opportunities which came their way.

Holdsworth and Worthington were narrowly off target with early shots, while Danny Schofield's trickery took him between two defenders before a crisp low shot was saved by the feet of keeper Garner.

Bury had seen Gray save from Leeds loan man Harpal Singh, but they couldn't believe their luck when Swailes was gifted his goal by miserable marking at the back post and a failure to cover by the keeper.

Town responded with a cracking Carss volley from a chipped corner and a couple of breaks by Jon Newby, who was well short of his best alongside Jon Stead.

Newby's best chance against his former club came from an excellent Carss pass on 40 minutes, when he should have taken the ball on and shot.

Instead, he checked while waiting for support and when he eventually decided to shoot, Swailes had got back to block.

The second half promised much more from Town, with Newby's dangerous low cross being touched out of the stride of Stead in the box and Sodje sneaking beyond the defence but failing to get a decisive touch on a Rob Edwards free-kick.

Thornley - on a short-term deal at Gigg Lane and making his debut after being released by Blackpool - posed the biggest threat to Town, while Worthington and Carss continued to raid with purpose at the other end.

Carss showed his terrific workrate by getting back to stop a dangerous O'Neil raid, while the nippy substitute was just off target for the home side with a diving header from Thornley's near-post cross.

Andy Preece's inconsistent side seemed primed for the chop, however, when Scott rose above the defence to nod in a Carss corner, which was earned when Stead's snapshot was deflected wide.

Gray's horrible mistake for Connell's winner served to underline the fact that Town have still to keep a clean sheet in senior competition, and you can bet Martin Smith has made a note as he prepares to return with Northampton.

Just like Bury tore up the script for Newby's hoped-for victorious return to his old stamping ground, Town must do the same to Smith in what is now a vitally important home assignment.


Ian Gray Made solid blocks from Singh and O'Neill but should have done better with both the Bury goals. Rating: 4/10

Ian Hughes Made some solid challenges and played one lovely ball to Newby, but wasted a few passes as well. Rating: 5/10

Rob Edwards Ben Thornley had an excellent game against him, but raided forward well when Town looked like taking the points. Rating: 5/10

Efe Sodje Caught out for the first goal and caught in possession on another occasion, the red card made it a bad day. Rating: 5/10

Paul Scott Superb display at the back and a first League goal which should have been enough to earn at least a point. Rating: 8/10

Andy Holdsworth Got stuck in and had a few decent raids forward. Went close with a cracking early drive across the face of the Bury goal. Rating: 6/10

Jon Worthington Booked for a lunging tackle, but made some driving runs and challenges and was close with a left foot drive. Rating: 6/10

Tony Carss Worked tremendously hard and close to the man of the match award. Unlucky with a couple of crisp shots. Rating: 7/10

Danny Schofield One brilliant early run and shot brought a fine save from Garner in the Bury goal. Worked hard throughout. Rating: 5/10

Jon Newby One or two nippy attacks, but hesitated on his best break in the first half and allowed his shot to be blocked. Rating: 4/10

Jon Stead Grafted hard but got little decent service and was frustrated. Just overran the ball from his best effort. Rating: 5/10

BURY: Garner, Unsworth, Woodthorpe, Swailes, Strong, Thornley, O'Shaughnessy (Connell 80), Duxbury, Singh (Whaley 87), Nugent (O'Neil 65), Preece.

Subs Not used: Gunby, Kennedy.


Paul Scott

Showed tremendous composure throughout and invariably seemed to be in the right place at the right time. With central partner Sodje now facing a three-match ban, it's a source of some comfort to manager Jackson that Scott is playing so well.

Protested his innocence after seeing red, but Efe Sodje's flailing arm cost him and Town dear. Instead of suffering under more pressure, it was Bury who were able to grab a valuable late winner


Subs used: Bury: O'Neil for Nugent 65, Connell for O'Shaughnessy 80, Whaley for Singh 87. Town: Mirfin for Holdsworth 76.

Subs not used: Bury: Gunby, Kennedy. Town: Booty, Thompson, Mattis, Senior.

Scorers: Bury: Swailes 24, Connell 82. Town: Scott 72.

Referee: Andre Marriner (Birmingham).

Bookings: Bury: Woodthorpe. Town: Worthington.

Dismissal: Town: Sodje (violent conduct)

Shots on target: Bury 5, Town 3.

Corners: Bury 2, Town 6.

Caught offside: Bury 4, Town 2.

Free-kicks awarded: Bury 12, Town 9.

Attendance: 4,591.

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