Bury leave it late but Maynard keeps their promotion push on track
Sky Bet League Two: Stevenage 0 Bury 1
Sky Bet League Two
Stevenage 0 Bury 1
The story of the match
Bury landed the money for those who backed them for maximum points at the Lamex Stadium but the Shakers' performance did not reach the standard expected of odds-on shots.
Nicky Maynard's free header in the 95th minute separated the sides. It just about had enough pace on it to find the bottom corner and sparked sensational scenes as the coaching staff, substitutes and players went berserk in their celebrations with the jubilant visiting faithful.
Second-placed Bury had rarely looked like scoring until Maynard notched and yet the importance of the goal was obvious.
Bury are six points clear of fourth-placed Mansfield in the race for automatic promotion from Sky Bet League Two (having played a game more) and this victory could be enormous in May.
Maynard had been surprisingly wasteful and had a shot in the fourth minute but that chance came out of nothing and there was little of note from the Shakers in general play until the dramatic injury-time finish.
Caolan Lavery failed to connect with a Nicky Adams cross just before the half-time interval of a stop-start first period, which was not helped by a linesman ging off ill and being replaced by the fourth official.
The best opportunity by a long way fell to Stevenage's Moses Makasi after Bury had been caught trying to play out from the back in windy conditions that made it difficult for either side to get going.
Makasi was through one-on-one with Joe Murphy, who tipped the shot just wide of the post.
Stevenage threatened more in the second half too with Joel Byrom shooting wide and an Alex Revell attempt was saved before the pivotal moment of an even contest arrived.
Boro midfielder Arthur Iontton slipped in substitute Jordan Gibson but the 21-year-old on loan from Bradford blazed over and Stevenage paid the price when Maynard popped up.
Neutrals have been drooling over Bury's football for much of this season with Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace using his programme notes to write "Our visitors played us off the park at their ground (4-0 win in November). I was really impressed with the way they played and the ease with which they cast us aside."
Ryan Lowe has stuck with the 3-5-2 formation and he asks his team to play out from the back, using the width of the attacking wing-backs Adams and Callum McFadzean.
For nearly all of the season it has been attack. Bury have scored 71 goals in 37 league matches this season and only Manchester City have scored more in all competitions in English football.
Bury's determination to stick to a passing plan has seen midfielders Jay O'Shea and Jordan Rossiter receive rave reviews, but it was not an afternoon for that side of the Shakers to click.
Murphy in goal made a key save and looked assured throughout, while of the three centre-backs Scott Wharton, on loan from Blackburn, was just the pick ahead of Eoghan O'Connell and Adam Thompson.
It has been questioned whether Bury are tough enough to eke out results, a point Lowe touched on in his post-match press conference, although on this occasion they stood up to Stevenage's physical presence.
Bury lacked creativity without midfielder Danny Mayor and this was only the second time they had won in the five league games he has failed to start.
His replacement, Neil Danns, did not have a bad game, but at 36 he is in the twilight of his career and Mayor's magic was sorely missed.
There is not much point looking past the obvious candidate in Maynard, a striker who has played at a higher level and is more than capable of making a decisive impact in League Two aged 32.
This header was his 18th league goal of an excellent campaign and that tally is better than it sounds as he did not start a game for Bury until early October.
View from the camp
Lowe said: "A 1-0 win is always sweet - we were nowhere near our best but all it takes is one chance. They had their moments which on another day might have hurt us."
This win made it 13 unbeaten in the league for Bury, who have been good enough for automatic promotion for most of the season and would be worthy of a top-three finish.
However, purely on this evidence they may not be a side to be steaming into on the road at short prices - this was the third straight road game when Lowe's men were limited to one goal.
There is usually late action with Stevenage, who look set to finish the season in mid-table, and this was their fourth straight match in which the result turned on a goal scored after 90 minutes.
Boro competed well and deserved at least a point. Talented wide player Ilias Chair, on loan from QPR, has added a new dimension to the squad since arriving from Loftus Road and they are unlikely to roll over under Dino Maamria despite the season petering out.
Stevenage 4-2-3-1: Farman; James-Wildin, Cuthbert, Wilkinson, Hunt; Byrom (McKee 79), Iontton; Guthrie, Makasi (Gibson 68), Chair; Revell (Adebayo 90).
Bury 3-5-2: Murphy; Thompson, O'Connell, Wharton; Adams (Moore 61), O'Shea, Rossiter, Danns (Omotayo 77), McFadzean; Lavery (Telford 67), Maynard.
Next three fixtures
Stevenage: Swindon (h), MK Dons (a), Macclesfield (a).
Bury: Cambridge (h), Grimsby (a), Swindon (h).
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