Football: Bury muscle in on the early leaders

Bury 3 Swindon Town 0
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BURY MAINTAINED their clean sheet in league football and, through a second-half battering of troubled Swindon, enhanced their surprise status as early front-runners.

Where the first period had illustrated the defensive strengths of Neil Warnock's sturdy outfit, the second half provided evidence that the sheer physical threat of a strong, fast and combative front three can bully sides lacking similar backbone into submission.

That second-half Bury barrage was in stark contrast to an opening first half, in which the scarce highlights were saved until the final minute. Mark Walters, the Swindon winger, opted to take on his opponent with trickery and pace instead, but his cross was headed onto the bar by the threatening Iffy Onuora.

Bury, who had been forced to feed off scraps for their own first-half chances, responded instantly with their own best opportunity. A scuffed Andy Preece shot fell into the path of Nicky Daws, whose own mis-hit attempt typified the general scarcity of an assured touch.

Both episodes, however, proved to instill an element of self-belief. Bury's French striker, Laurent D'Jaffo, twice worried the Swindon defence, shooting marginally high and then wide on swift breaks. But, while Bury persisted with the aerial approach, Swindon had learned to threaten the strong Bury central three on the floor. David Kerslake's forceful run into the area and testing near-post shot threatened an increasingly fragile deadlock.

It was no surprise, though, that Swindon were eventually caught on the break. Rob Matthews elected to ignore the obvious central target and pick out Dean Barrick, who finished with conviction. A mass scuffle served to further rattle the visitors, Onuora fortunate to escape punishment.

Bury's own punitive action was, in any case, more effective. Before the dust had settled, Barrick picked up Preece at the back post. His cushioned header provided Matthews with the simplest of conversions. As Swindon's travelling supporters called for the head of the manager, Steve McMahon, Bury twisted the knife. The excellent Lennie Johnrose, having just struck the crossbar with a curling shot, forced the Swindon defence to scramble the ball into the path of Preece, whose sweeping first-time shot eluded Town's keeper, Frank Talia.

Bury (5-2-3): Kiely; Woodward, Lucketti, Redmond, Swailes, Barrick, Daws, Johnrose, Matthews (Jemson, 78), Preece, D'Jaffo (Ellis, 87). Substitute not used: Foster.

Swindon Town (4-4-2): Talia, Kerslake, Burrows, Reeves, Hall, (Davis, 87), Walters, Bullock, Hulbert, Gooden, Ndah, Onuora. Substitutes not used: Cowe, Robinson.

Referee: R Pearson (Peterlee).