Soft pens decide derby


Zach Clough –

1929. A year Sheffield Wednesday were champions of England, South Shields and Merthyr Town were existing Football League clubs and Bolton Wanderers won a third FA Cup of the decade under Charles Foweraker. It was also the last time the Trotters crossed the River Irwell to record a win at Bury, who have never since played in England’s top division. Switch back to 2016 however, and Phil Parkinson’s side got that victory, in a disciplined performance helped by two dubious penalties won and scored by Zach Clough.

The Shakers had looked reasonably bright early on in a competitive start with possession frequently changing hands. Zeli Ismail caused occasional problems for Andrew Taylor with his runs down the right, but the winger’s drilled crosses were well-dealt with by Mark Beevers and David Wheater, imperious at the back.

After a home corner, Niall Maher had been the only player back in his own half and became isolated against Clough, his former Bolton teammate. The youngster went down easily under the right-back’s challenge, but coolly slotted home the penalty. The two were in another battle shortly after when Clough rounded the keeper and Maher headed his effort off the line. While Bury left themselves vulnerable to simplistic counter-attacks, Jay Spearing and Derik Osede looked tactically savvier in midfield than Tom Soares and Neil Danns for the hosts.

Bury had a brief spell of pressure early in the second half. However, that was partly because Bolton allowed them space in wide areas, confident that their centre-backs would handle anything that came their way, Wheater blocking a shot from a frustrated James Vaughan.

David Flitcroft’s side’s momentum ended on 56 minutes when Clough was fouled again, this time by Leon Barnett, with the same end result – another Bolton goal. Gary Madine’s pressing meant Barnett and Anthony Kay were unable to play out from the back, so Vaughan’s service consisted of hopeful high balls from deep. Bury had to open up more in the latter stages and that perhaps suited the visitors, who could have got a third when substitutes James Henry and Jamie Proctor combined for the latter to miss from close-range.

Derby defeat was Bury’s sixth straight October loss in all competitions, after Flitcroft had won September’s Manager of the Month award. Helpfully or otherwise, that accolade for October could go to Parky, whose side have produced four straight wins to nil. Three points means Bolton are now second in the table, with only another 87 years until the next win at Gigg Lane.

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