REPORT: BURY 2 LATICS 2Two goals in the final five minutes sealed another incredible late comeback for Gary Caldwell’s Latics, who had found themselves two goals down after dominating the contest.
Substitute Grant Holt started the comeback on 85 minutes in his first league game for Latics for 18 months, and although it appeared he had scored, the final touch may have come off Bury skipper Nathan Cameron, before Latics captain Craig Morgan’s rasping 90th minute drive earned Latics a superb point.
And it could have been Chesterfield Part Two. Another substitute, Tim Chow, saw his injury time effort clawed off the line by Joe Riley in what would have been fairy tale stuff.
Latics dominated the match from start to finish in terms of possession but found Bury a very difficult nut to crack and were twice hit on the break to go two goals down from headers by Cameron and Tom Pope.
In the end, Caldwell and Latics had to settle for a draw against an uncompromising, ultra competitive Bury team, who were reduced to ten men with 20 minutes left after Chris Hussey had chopped down Michael Jacobs – the same player he earned his first yellow card for fouling.
All in all, another quite incredible match once again – this is becoming a habit.
Caldwell recalled Jacobs, David Perkins, Reece James and Morgan to the starting line-up after all four were rested for the midweek Johnstone’s Paint Trophy trip to Crewe. Yanic Wildschut for Will Grigg was the only change from the starting line-up against Walsall last Saturday with the Northern Ireland striker still away on international duty.
Latics found themselves a goal down at the break having dominated a frustrating first half.
Wildschut showed his ability inside the first two minutes with a terrific run and cross down the left which Jordy Hiwula wasn’t able to convert into a chance, before winning a corner immediately afterwards.
But then Latics were caught on the counter after just six minutes.
Leon Clarke’s shot was deflected for a corner, Hussey swung it in and Cameron headed it in unchallenged from eight yards out. Real disappointment after a bright start.
Latics responded immediately with a low shot from Perkins from just inside the area, after James’ corner kick was headed back to him and he threaded a good ball through, but the ball whistle a yard wide. Then it was Wildschut’s turn to try from the same area, but he screwed his effort well wide.
Latics almost conceded a second from a corner, Peter Clarke forcing Chris McCann to clear off the line after heading from inside the six yard box, but back they came through Wildschut, Hiwula and Perkins with three chances in quick succession - each deflected for a corner.
Latics were in need of a breakthrough - the possession and build-up play was crisp but Bury were content to sit deep and they were solid in the final third.
Wildschut almost provided the spark just before the break, a terrific, driving run into the Bury half ending with a 25 yeard effort straight at Lainton, which the keeper could only deflect up into the air and it was cleared. Hussey was booked for pulling down Jacobs as he ran through down the right channel. Jacobs himself swung in a dangerous free-kick, but that too was cleared. Then two efforts from Jacobs and Perkins were blocked on the edge of the box.
Latics appealed for a penalty in added time when Cameron pulled McCann’s shirt in the box and the Irishman went down – but nothing was given and Latics’ players trudged off the pitch after a frustrating first 45 minutes.
The second half began in much the same way, with Latics doing most of the pressing, but again getting caught.
Daniels saw his effort from inside the area deflected kindly into Lainton’s arms after 48 minutes and for all the possession Latics just couldn’t find a way through. Bury sat deep, defended in numbers and struck on the break to devastating effect on the hour, substitute Tom Pope stooping low in front of Barnett to turn Hussey’s cross past Jaaskelainen.
More of the same followed, Wildschut cutting through down the left and crossing but Jacobs fired high at the far post.
Grant Holt replaced James after 65 minutes for his first taste of league action in a Latics shirt since Boxing Day 2013 as Caldwell shuffled his pack in an attempt to get back into the game.
Still Latics came looking for a breakthrough but Bury were resolute, last ditch tackle three times denying a strike at goal, as the 1,677 Latics fans behind the goal tried to suck the ball into the net.
Bury were reduced to ten men on 77 minutes when Hussey pulled down Jacobs - again – as he drove at goal and received a second yellow card.
Would that help Latics or force Bury even further into their shell?
Caldwell brought on Francisco Junior for Hiwula to see if his footwork might unlock a white-shirted door in midfield.
McCann drove into the box and saw his shot well saved by Lainton, then Jacobs’ follow-up was deflected into the keeper’s gratefully extended arms.
But Latics finally found the back of the net with six minutes left on the clock, Jacob’s cross from the right reaching Holt at the near post and the ball flew past Lainton – possibly off Cameron.
Latics poured forwards now, with crosses coming in from the left and right, shots being blocked, last ditch tackles flying in; McCann coming closest when his drive was deflected just over.
Tim Chow replaced Daniels in Caldwell’s final throw of the dice and when Morgan picked the ball up in the 90th minute on the edge of the box, there was only one thing on his mind and his 20 yard drive sailed through a ruck of defenders into the bottom left hand corner of Lainton’s net.
Now Latics were looking for an improbable winner, Power’s free-kick whistled just over, then Chow seemed to have squeezed the ball home but Joe Riley managed to clear it off the line at full stretch.
In a quite incredible finish, Latics’ goalkeeping coach Mike Pollitt appeared to be sent from the bench before there was a scuffle between the players but as the referee signalled the end of five minutes additional time, the fans of both sides didn’t know whether to cheer or cry. What an incredible match.