United make it two out of two
United made it two wins from the first two games as strikes from Danny Rose and Johnny Mullins earned them a 2-1 win over Bury in the first home game of the season. The duo's strikes, one in each half, bracketed Tom Soares second-half goal for The Shakers as United made it a maximum six points from the first week.
The home season started with fireworks, literally, as the teams entered to pyrotechnics and flames and after their superb opening day win at Portsmouth The U’s looked full of confidence in the first few minutes. Alfie Potter tested visiting keeper Rob Lainton in the fifth minute at the end of the first of several eye-catching moves as United tried to impose their passing style on the game.
Unchanged since that first Saturday, United had a Rigg shot from the edge of the area well saved by Lainton after 11 minutes and were looking good, although it took two superb blocks from the industrious Rose to stop Bury having free shots at Ryan Clarke’s goal. Bury were slightly more direct but looked dangerous throughout – Tom Newey doing well to head a dangerous cross away on 25 as his former club put another good ball into the box – but United are good on the break this season and moments later the ball was at the other end for Rigg to test Lainton’s handling once again with a powerful shot from 20 yards.
It was a good game to watch and on 33 Rose got the reward for his wonderful first-half display with the opener. Deane Smalley was fouled just outside the D of the penalty box, giving United a free kick dead centre of the goal. Rose took responsibility and curled a left-footed effort up and over the wall and inside the right-hand post to make it 1-0. The midfielder has started his second spell with United very impressively.
In bright sunshine and in from of 5,774 fans, United look a hard side to break down this year, with Johnny Mullins and Jake Wright a formidable partnership and Newey and David Hunt rock solid as full backs. While the all-action Rose drew the applause this afternoon, his partner in the engine room Andy Whing plays a very important role alongside him and when John Rooney looked like testing Clarke for the first time on 51 it was Whing who got an important block to send the ball wide.
Clarke made a good save from Rooney on 52, catching the ball safely down by his left-hand post, with the Shakers starting the second half well and opening up much more to try and retrieve the situation. One or two late challenges spiced things up while a clash of heads between Dave Kitson and Richard Hinds on 66 minutes left Kitson needing prolonged attention before he could resume his role as the focal point of United’s attack.
The delay just broke the game up a little and on 70 minutes Bury were level as Euan Holden dribbled deep into the United area. Defenders converged but somehow Holden poked the ball across from the left and Soares had made up the ground to plant the ball home from three yards out to make it 1-1.
United came back strong, roared on by the Yellow Army, and a Kitson header was spectacularly tipped away by Lainton when it seemed destined for the corner of his net. Potter started to make inroads and with renewed urgency it wasn't long before the U's were in front once more.
There is a trademark free kick which United have perfected where they pull the ball back behind the expectant defence. This time it was Hunt who took it, drilling the ball across from the right after Nathan Cameron had fouled Smalley towards the corner flag. Mullins was alert to the possibilities and had timed his run perfectly, arriving ten yards out to thump a right-footed shot past Lainton and make it 2-1 with a fine goal. Excellent defender, excellent finisher.
Cameron was so incensed that he talked himself into a second yellow card while the celebrations were going on all around him, reducing Bury to 10 men and making their task extremely difficult. They will trouble a lot of sides this season but after a summer of rebuilding and rebranding, United's players were fiercely determined to open up with a win on their own turf for their fans. There will be more fluent performances over the coming months but any successful side has to be based on character and togetherness. This game was all about the win in front of the Yellow Army. Mission accomplished.
Fifty/50 number 292618 wins £920
Report by Chris Williams
Pictures by Steve Daniels
Stats by OPTA