FA TROPHY FIRST QUALIFYING ROUND: Bury Town 2 Kings Langley 0
Bradley Barber scored twice in the second half to send Bury Town through to the second qualifying rouind of non-League’s biggest cup competition this afternoon.
The Blues’ number 10 drilled in his 11th goal since his summer step up from lower league Felixstowe & Walton United in the 57th minute, before his half-volley, following a free-kick, sealed his side’s progress in the 83rd minute.
With a bit of an injury and availabbility crisis going into the match - Ollie Canfer, Ollie Hughes and Justin Miller among those not available - Bury Town manager Ben Chenery registered Team Bury attacking midfielder Daniel Hammett, not 18 until February, to come in for his first senior appearance.
And the former King Edwards VI Upper School pupil did not let him down, making an explosive start, with one mazy run down the left channel seeing his cut in and skip past three players before slipping a clever ball into Barber, whose weak shot was comfortably saved.
Before that, the pocket sized teenage talent had flashed a shot wide of Ant Ladyman’s far post, with the Southern Football League Division One Central outfit, who play at the same level as Bury after their back-to-back promotions, finding themselves second best in the opening stages.
Hammett had his third shot at goal, sending his strike into the goalkeeper’s arms, before Kings registered their first on target after an early chance had been lashed over. Striker Michael Weiss’ effort was never troubling Blues custodian Neil O’Sullivan though.
The home side threatened to take the lead in a largely forgettable first half, Hammett’s participation aside, when Barber’s whipped in free-kick found its way to Noel Aitkens, but the Bury youngster took it first time with his left foot and sent it curling beyond the far post.
Kings Langely, who had been playing three levels lower than their opponents two years ago, almost stole their way into a half-time lead when Bury’s defence were caught square as Weiss was put clear, only for O’Sullivan to fly off his line and make a good block with his legs.
It was a half where Bury had seen more of the ball, but neither goalkeeper had been particularly troubled, bar O’Sullivan’s late sweeper role.
Bury made a change for the restart with Remi Garrett, who looked promising down the left on Tuesday night, withdrawn through injury after a largely annonymous 45 minutes on the right-hand side, replaced by Craig Nurse.
It was the visitors who strarted the half the brightest with their captain Stuart Deaton heading over from full-back Danny Hutchins’ pin-point right-wing cross.
If that was a warning, Bury did not particularly heed it as it was left for Aitkens to eventually come to the rescue to dispossess Ryan Plowright, who had been allowed to run from halfway to the 18 yard box after Hammett put in a rare sloppy pass.
But the Blues, who had looked lethargic since the restart, were soon celebrating the opening goal.
Shortly before the hour mark, a neat move down the right-hand side saw Tevan Allen play Noel Aitkens down the byline, and the youngsters’ smart pull-back found Barber on the edge of the area who drilled it spectacularly into the top right-hand corner, giving Ladyman no chance.
Both sides made changes with Bury bringing on 16-year-old Cameron Nicholls on for his senior debut, replacing Sam Reed up front in the 63rd minute.
Aitkens should have done better with a glancing header that he put several yards wide from Barber’s corner after a free-kick had caused panic in Kings’ area.
There were half-hearted appeals from the visitors as Weiss stumbled in the box when trying to convert a cross with De’ath behind him, though it looked like Football League assistant and National League referee Mike George had got the decision right by allowing play to continue.
At the other end, Nicholls was encouraged by the home crowd to chase down a ball 20 yards from Kings’ goalmouth and almost got lucky, getting ahead of defender in the end, who then got his body across to prevent him getting a clean shot away.
A visitors’ corner saw O’Sullivan spill his attempted catch, with Bury eventually pumping the ball clear out of their penalty area.
O’Sullivan had to come to his side’s aid twice as the clock ticked towards the final 10 minutes, making a routine low save from Dean Hitchcock and then swiftly coming off line to good effect, like at the end of the first half, to save at the feet of sub Tom Carter.
But Barber made the tie safe for the hosts with eight minutes of normal time remaining when he steered his half-volley beyond Ladyman after his own headed flick-on had only been cleared back to him, following De’ath’s long throw-in.
Youngster Hammett, who had faded in the second half as tired legs caught up with the West Suffolk College Football Academy pupil, got a standing ovation as he was replaced by fellow college team-mate Matty Collins.
There was a humorous incident as it was announced there would be five mintues of stoppage time, only for it to be changed to four when the assitant referee realised he had mis-read his timepiece.
But the withdrawn minute made no difference as there were no further chances, with Bury fans celebrating the perfect response to Tuesday’s disappointing league defeat in what was their third home game in seven days.
Ben Chenery’s side now await Monday’s second qualifying draw at Wembley on Monday lunchtime to see who the Blues will face in the next round on the road to Wembley.
Bury: O’Sullivan, Allen, Paterson, Kennedy, De’ath, Weavers (c), Garrett (Nurse 46), Aitkens, Reed Nicholls 63), Barber, Hammett (Collins 87). Unused sub: Steed.
Kings: Ladyman, Hutchins, Adebiyi, Hitchcock (Pattison 82), Deaton (c), Folarin, Stevens (Carter 73), Ward (Cole 61), Weiss, Tommey, Plowright. Unsued: Femiola.
Man of The Match: Bardley Barber. Had his shooting boots on when others didn’t to make the difference.
* Post-match video interview with manager Ben Chenery to follow on www.buryfreepress.co.uk Monday with the announcement of the FA Trophy draw for the Blues.