Bury 2-2 Fleetwood Town
Fleetwood were forced to settle for a point at the JD Stadium after Bury fought back twice to take a share of the spoils in Greater Manchester.
Antoni Sarcevic scored his first goal since the 2-1 win over Rochdale in December to give Fleetwood the lead five minutes before the break, but Daniel Nardiello levelled a minute after the interval.
Jamille Matt scored his second goal in two games to restore Town’s lead, but Nardiello struck again from the penalty spot, and despite Bury edging the second half, Town remained resilient to take a point.
In the build up to kick-off, manager Graham Alexander made two changes to the side that beat Torquay United 1-0 three days earlier, and with it, tweaked his formation to 4-1-3-2.
Jon Parkin was drafted back into the starting line-up to partner Jamille Matt up front with Gareth Evans dropping to the bench, whilst Josh Morris made his first start since joining on loan from Blackburn Rovers in place of Stewart Murdoch.
Just like Fleetwood’s last three games, the opening exchanges were cagey, but Town started the game the brighter and were creating the best openings – particularly from the left foot of Morris from set pieces – with two corners from the right causing havoc in the Bury back line – the second being met by Nathan Pond who forced a good save from Brian Jensen in goal.
It was quickly becoming clear that Fleetwood’ best opportunities were coming from corners. Two Schumacher deliveries, again, caused chaos in the Bury penalty area with the first flashing across the area, before the head of Pond met the second, but the defender saw his effort accidently blocked by Parkin.
Chances aside, though, and this was a fine first half Fleetwood display. There was an air of confidence in their play every time they swept forward, but they remained well drilled and compact as they frustrated the home side to very little in attack. So much so that David Flitcroft introduced midfielder Tom Soares after 37 minutes.
Moments later and Fleetwood drew first blood. Schumacher’s sliding challenge forced the ball into the path of Parkin, who spread a pass out to Morris on the left hand side. The midfielder, with time and space, delivered a cross to the back post for Sarcevic to crash into the back of the net for the goal Fleetwood’s play had merited.
With Flitcroft’s half time words ringing in their ears, Bury were quick out of the blocks at the start of the second half and within a minute had made the game all square.
After Fleetwood had failed to clear a cross from the right, the ball fell to Danny Mayor and the winger’s driven cross was clipped by Nardiello over the head of Maxwell and into the back of the net.
Only ten minutes later, though, and Fleetwood restored their lead. After Morris was fouled in the centre, referee Mark Haywood allowed play to continue as the ball fell to Parkin and the striker poked the ball into the path of Schumacher who’s shot, saved by the legs of Jensen, fell into the path of Matt to lash into the back of the empty net.
The game had sparked to life. Only three minutes had past and Nardiello struck Bury level once more with a crisp effort into the bottom right hand corner after Mark Roberts had brought him down just inside the penalty area.
Bury were beginning to throw everything at Fleetwood, substitute Akpa Akpro was the next to test Maxwell as he darted inside the Town back line after controlling Jensen’s long kick up field, but Maxwell was equal to his low effort to turn it round for a corner.
Bury continued to have the better of the second half, but neither team could find the elusive winning goal as both teams settled for a point on a cold night in Greater Manchester.