GALLERY: Bury Town 0 Eastleigh 3
PUBLISHED: 10:06 02 December 2013 | UPDATED: 10:06 02 December 2013
Bury Town’s FA Trophy adventure ended with a whimper as Richard Wilkins’ side were outclassed by Skrill South promotion contenders Eastleigh in the First Round.
Despite being 32 places below the visitors in the footballing pyramid, the Blues would have fancied their chances of causing a cup upset, but in the end looked miles apart from Richard Hill’s team.
Bury were missing influential performers such as Seb Dunbar, David Bridges, Russell Short and the cup-tied Danny Cunningham which certainly didn’t help the hosts, but such was the confidence of the visitors, that it is unlikely that the result would have been much different.
Eastleigh were able to boast former Football League stars such as ex-Exeter hitman Stuart Fleetwood and prolific former Dagenham & Redbridge striker Ben Strevens, who enjoyed a couple of fruitful seasons in League Two with the Essex side.
And it was that duo that made the big difference, well supported by ex-Braintree Town midfielder Jai Reason.
Strevens put the visitors two goals ahead within 36 minutes, with a free header and a tap-in, which highlighted deficiencies in the hosts’ defending and killed the tie off. Substitute Craig McAllister made it three in the second half with another free header from Fleetwood’s centre.
The Blues showed some heart and made a decent fist of the game in the second period but in truth, the game was well out of their grasp by that point.
Bury lacked the desired tempo required by the underdog in a cup tie and struggled to clear their lines early on. Goalkeeper Marcus Garnham had already saved a speculative effort by Reason before the visitors took the lead on 11 minutes.
Left-back Michael Green floated over an inswinging corner from the right and Strevens leapt unmarked to head home from 12 yards.
Bury attempted to get forward and after Ryan Semple had an effort blocked for a corner, the same player was then denied by Ross Flitney’s feet after firing in a near post effort.
At the other end, Strevens then saw a shot blocked by Tom Bullard after good play from Green, before Chris Todd’s overhead kick went wide.
After another venture forward came to nothing for Bury, Eastleigh broke and doubled their lead.
Fleetwood, in acres of the space on the left, darted forward and found Yemi Odubade at the back post. The striker’s first touch was poor but he still had time to get a shot away which Garnham diverted into the path of Strevens who tapped home on the goal-line.
Shane Tolley tried to get Bury back in the game with a long-range effort that was straight at Flitney before Fleetwood almost made it three.
The nippy forward broke forward down the left and after rounding Garnham, chipped a shot towards goal from a tight angle which the keeper did well to palm over for a corner.
The hosts made a bright start to the second half but soon found themselves three down. Again, they were the architects of their own downfall as McAllister nodded home unmarked, from Fleetwood’s left-wing free-kick. Bury’s first real chance came with around 20 minutes to go, Flitney saving Bullard’s header.
Billy Clark then jinked round Green and forced the Eastleigh ‘keeper into a save.
Had Bury showed the same kind of skill that saw sub Anthony Roulston and Clark link up to feed another substitute Jack Higgs, who forced Flitney into a fine save, then the Blues may have stayed in the game.
Unfortunately, Bury gifted Eastleigh two unmarked headers and when Adam Bailey-Dennis was given the same opportunity in injury time, the defender headed well wide.
BURY: Garnham, Smith, Whight, Kennedy, Bailey-Dennis, Bullard (Kawaguchi), Semple, Bailey, Clark, Tolley (Roulston), Patrick (Higgs).