A Nicky Maynard goal condemned Exeter City to a 1-0 defeat against Bury at St James Park in Sky Bet League Two.
In a game of fine margins, the Grecians were undone by a second half finish from close range, and despite dominating large parts of the game, they were unable to find their way back into the match.
City boss Matt Taylor made three changes from the side that drew 1-1 in Carlisle last weekend, with Lee Holmes, Ryan Bowman and Dean Moxey returning in place of Kane Wilson, Lee Martin and Jonathan Forte.
Exeter started the game well, and Randell Williams went down in the box after a superb piece of skill to fashion a shooting opportunity - but the referee waved away appeals for a penalty from the home side after six minutes.
A mix-up between Dean Moxey and Christy Pym nearly left the Grecians’ goalkeeper stranded as the defender nearly diverted a ball beyond his own keeper, but Pym recovered – his flailing right leg got enough on the ball to clear the ball, and the danger.
City were restricted to speculative efforts in the opening period; Ryan Bowman’s knockdown – originally meant for Williams – found its way to Nicky Law on 18 minutes, but the midfielder blazed an effort from distance over the bar. Maynard then blasted a cross from the visitors’ left over Pym’s crossbar as Bury crafted their first real opportunity of the game. The away side had another shooting opportunity from a free-kick on the edge of the Exeter box in the minutes that followed, but Jay O’Shea’s effort again flew over.
City responded well to the pressure, and Pierce Sweeney’s cross after 25 minutes was met by the head of Law, but his glancing header went wide of Joe Murphy’s goal. Sweeney would turn provider yet again from a free-kick down the City right, but the best chance of the passage that followed fell to Archie Collins, whose deflected effort landed on top of the Bury goal.
Only a spectacular flying save from Murphy then prevented Bowman from opening his City account with 34 minutes on the clock; Holmes crossed and the City striker rose highest to meet it, only to see an airborne Murphy claw the ball away from the Bury goal.
Bury nearly went into half-time a goal to the good after Will Aimson met a free-kick from deep with his head, but thankfully for the Grecians, the ball landed inches wide of Pym’s right-hand post.
The visitors would take the lead after creating the first clear-cut chance of the game on 64 minutes when Craig Woodman was beaten down the City left and eventually the ball fell for Nicky Maynard, who did just enough to score from close range.
Pym was then under pressure again as a Bury counter created a shooting opportunity for Jay O’Shea, but the City goalkeeper made a comfortable save diving low to his left.
Another stop from Pym – this time 1v1 when Byron Moore broke clean through on goal – kept City in the game; the City goalkeeper’s outstretched leg denied the Bury man a certain goal with just over 10 minutes to play.
City responded, and surged forward in pursuit of an equaliser; substitute Donovan Wilson saw a shot blocked inside the area, before a second effort moments later flew wide, but couldn’t find a way through a defensive Bury side who emerged with all three points.
Attendance: 4,607 (281 away)
EXETER CITY: Pym; Sweeney, D O’Shea, Moxey, Woodman (D Wilson 80); Williams, Taylo, Collins, Law, Holmes © (K Wilson 73); Bowman.
Subs not used: Hamon, A Martin, Jay, J Brown, Dean.
Booked: Taylor, Moxey
BURY FC: Murphy, Aimson, Thompson, Adams ©, Mayor, Rossiter (O’Connell 82), Moore, Wharton (Stokes 45), McFadzean, J O’Shea, Maynard (Telford 74).
Subs not used: Moloney, Cooney, Danns, Lavery.
Booked: Wharton, Murphy, Adams.