Bury 1, Wycombe Wanderers 0.
WANDERERS’ freefall shows no sign of ending as another crucial game against a fellow struggler ended in defeat.
Only goal difference is now keeping them out of the relegation zone as Anton Forrester’s sweet first half strike was enough to see Bury leapfrog the Chairboys and give themselves a bit more breathing space at the foot of the League Two table.
On such a poor run of form, Wanderers knew how much was riding on this game and the consequences a costly defeat would have.
The result was not a positive performance, which under-fire Blues boss Gareth Ainsworth had expected after being impressed with his side in their preceding two games.
Instead Wanderers played frightened football, scared to show the dash of flair needed to enliven a scrappy game in case it led to a loss of possession.
Blues can’t fall much further but they’re now teetering just above the trapdoor with their recent run now reading a depressing one win from 16 games.
Bury in truth weren’t a lot better and Chris Sedgwick summed up what to expect from two struggling teams when attempting a volley from the middle of the penalty area and succeeding only in finding the player who had crossed it in the first place, with Andrew Tutte being denied a second bite at the cherry thanks to an offside flag.
It was scrappy from both sides although Bury looked the slightly more adventurous going forward as Marvin McCoy was forced to head clear as Tommy Miller’s shot threatened to whistle into the net.
Mistakes seemed to be the only way chances would be created as Stuart Lewis seized on Jim McNulty’s inability to clear before firing a shot into the ample midriff of Shakers stopper Brian Jensen, before the hosts broke clear and almost went in front as Forrester sent a dipping volley wide.
An even more ghastly piece of defending from the hosts saw Pablo Mills play the ball straight to Sam Wood in his own penalty area, and he was relieved to see his colleague Frederic Veseli bail him out with a fine block to deny the Wanderers midfielder.
Debutant Tutte sent an effort wide and a tame Forrester shot bobbled safely through to goalkeeper Matt Ingram as the game became increasingly scrappy.
A rare opening and moment of quality from the visitors saw Josh Scowen fizz a volley inches over the bar before Bury took the lead moments later, as Forrester latched onto an incisive pass before cutting into the area and confidently firing across Ingram and into the bottom corner.
Wanderers thought they had garnered a swift equaliser as another Scowen volley found the stanchion behind the goal, with the side netting being rippled by his shot.
The goal at least prompted greater urgency from Blues as Jensen unconvincingly turned Nick Arnold’s shot over the bar and Lewis dipped an effort wide as Bury could only clear the ball as far as the Wanderers skipper.
Reece Styche, who had set up the shooting chance for Scowen, went on another tenacious run as he seemed to be the only player in a blue shirt ready to take the game by the scruff of the neck. That run was halted inches outside the box – with Blues claiming he was checked inside it – but Arnold wasted the free kick chance as the first half ended with him smashing the ball into the wall.
A big half time team talk was needed by Ainsworth but there was little sign of improvement after the break as Matt McClure missed the ball completely from an inviting Wood cross.
And Bury ought to have extended their lead as Ashley Grimes, so often a thorn in the side for Wanderers in recent times, shot wide from a decent position.
The home side failed to capitalise on mistakes from the low-on-confidence visitors as a suicidal backpass from Anthony Stewart went nowhere near Ingram and rolled out of play for a corner – although the young defender redeemed himself from the resulting delivery as he made a great block to deny Forrester from close range after the recently-arrived substitute Clive Platt flicked the ball into the his path.
The more attacking Paris Cowan-Hall was introduced from the bench and his cross was stabbed wide by Arnold, who moments earlier had sent a volley curling narrowly the wrong side of the upright.
But the saddest fact was Wanderers’ closest second half opening coming from a Bury player, as Mills misdirected a header onto the roof of his own net.
Wanderers: Ingram, McCoy, Doherty, Johnson (sub Stewart), Mustoe (sub Cowan-Hall), Arnold, Lewis, Scowen, Wood, McClure (sub Jeffrey), Styche. Substitutes not used: Horlock, Bloomfield, Kretzschmar, Kuffour.
Attendance: 2,818 (171 from Wycombe)