Report: Bury 2 Exeter City 0
Exeter City succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Bury in the Sky Bet League 2 fixture at Gigg Lane.
The Shakers had much of the running in the first period, but the chance of the half came to Liam Sercombe, whose low effort was turned away off the legs of stopper Brian Jensen.
The deadlock was broken by Chris Hussey’s free-kick midway through the second half, and Exeter were reduced to ten men soon after as captain Danny Coles picked up a second yellow card.
Exeter dug deep and tried to force the equaliser, but were ultimately picked off in the 90th minute as Bury sub Tom Soares added their second.
Regular right-back Danny Butterfield missed the trip to Bury with an injury picked up during the week, meaning a recall into the squad and starting XI for Aaron Dawson for the first time since August.
Otherwise it was a completely unchanged squad for the Grecians, with Tom Nichols starting as the lone striker with Liam Sercombe, Matt Oakley and Eliot Richards providing the support. Former Grecian Daniel Nardiello started for the Shakers, spearheading the attack with Everton loanee Hallum Hope.
The Shakers looked the more fluid of the two sides in the early exchanges. Chris Sedgwick somehow kept the ball away from a number of City bodies in the centre circle before releasing Andrew Tutte, and the midfielder’s effort needing touching around the post by goalkeeper Artur Krysiak.
The City stopper needed to be alert again soon after as Chris Hussey lined up a free-kick 25 yards out, after a touch of indecision in the Exeter defence – the goalkeeper gathered well.
Exeter began to find their feet and a neat, patient build-up by the Grecians saw Sercombe earn a free-kick just outside the area after he showed quick feet to win the foul. Nichols got bend and power on the dead-ball, but couldn’t get it to dip under the bar.
Bury were penning back the Grecians and a succession of corners for the hosts needed defending. Danny Mayor, cutting in off the left, stung the palms of Krysiak with a venomous right-footed effort.
With half an hour played, Exeter suddenly began to threaten as Richards and Sercombe began to get closer to Nichols in support. The best chance of the game came and went when Pablo Mills’ loose pass was claimed by Oakley – the midfielder passed to Nichols, and he in turn released Sercombe, but Bury stopped Brian Jensen saved with his legs.
Shortly after Richards and Sercombe both had low centres from the right-hand byline cut out, as Exeter began to expose some chinks in Bury’s armour. But the hosts still attacked and again Mayor hit a stinging effort which tested Krysiak’s reactions.
Craig Woodman had a chance to open the score before the break as Nichols won a free-kick on the edge of the box, following some ponderous Bury defending. However the left-back’s low strike cannoned against some shins in the wall.
Half-time: Bury 0 Exeter City 0
The first chance of the second period fell to Tutte, who escaped the attentions of Oakley and pulled the trigger from 30 yards – the swinging effort was gathered by Krysiak at the second attempt.
The quality of Hussey’s left foot was causing a few problems to Exeter’s defence and a cross hung up from the left flank wasn’t fully dealt with, and City breathed a collective sigh of relief to see his close-range effort clear the crossbar.
Matt Grimes was the first City sub, replacing Matt Gill, and Danny Coles was the first name in the book as he made a somewhat cynical block on Mayor, whose clever footwork down the left had sent him careering towards goal.
Hussey made Exeter pay from the free-kick, as his curling left-footed effort skipped off the turf and past Krysiak for the opening goal.
And bad became worse for Exeter within a few minutes, as Coles bundled down Shakers sub Danny Rose near his own corner flag and received his second yellow, and with it, his marching orders.
Consequently the Grecians had to see out the remaining 20 minutes a player light, and the Shakers looked comfortable with a man and goal advantage.
John O’Flynn and David Wheeler were added to the fray in place of Nichols and Dawson respectively as manager Paul Tisdale rolled the dice in search of that elusive equaliser.
The home fans had to endure a nervy final ten minutes as Exeter played some neat and tidy football around the Bury box, but Jensen didn’t have too much to concern him.
And the match was settled during the five added minutes, as sub Soares collected Mayor’s low cross at the far post, steadied himself, and prodded into the net for 2-0.
Full-time: Bury 2 Exeter City 0
Bury: Jensen, Mills, McNulty, Veseli; Jones (Miller 73), Sedgwick, Mayor, Tutte (Soares 78), Hussey; Hope (Rose 63), Nardiello.
Subs (not used): Charles-Cook, Hinds, Procter, Platt.
Goals: Hussey (66), Soares (90).
Exeter City: Krysiak; Dawson (Wheeler 80), Coles, Moore-Taylor, Woodman; Sercombe, Gill (Grimes 54), Bennett, Richards; Oakley; Nichols (O’Flynn 72).
Subs (not used): Pym, Baldwin, Davies, Parkin.
Attendance: 2,718 (144 away).
Referee: S. Stockbridge