By Joel Downings
Bacup Borough showed steely determination to run out narrow 2-1 winners over Hanley Town on Saturday. Goals from debutant Kevin Masirika and the returning Yves Zama mean Borough are now unbeaten in 5 games in all competitions.
The home side started well, pressing straight from the off Matty Barlow harried a Hanley Town defender and forced an error, Darcy O’Connor found himself with the ball in a decent position but opted to play in Ben Boyne when a shot might have been a better option.
It was a good early sign though, Borough’s high pressing has characterised their renaissance in the past five games and it was clear from the first whistle that the hard work could pay off again.
The first real danger of the game came when Jamie Higgins played in Matty Bryan, the winger beat his man and whipped in a dangerous low cross. But the ball didn’t find a target and was scrambled away by a Hanley defender.
Bacup broke the deadlock on 17 minutes, an O’Connor freekick was headed away but only as far as Kevin Masirika, the defender had enough time to control the ball before slotting home for a goal on his debut.
The visitors almost replied on the 20 minute mark when a decent corner was headed narrowly over. Their danger from set pieces was even more evident 16 minutes later when Stanyer did head home a corner to level the game.
The teams went in at the break with the score at 1-1. Some dubious decisions, including an offside call meant Bacup were denied the chance to take the lead but really the game was hindered by the referee constantly blowing up. Neither side was allowed to play and at times it looked like Hanley didn’t want to, more interested in a physical battle than a game of football.
With the second half underway Boyne leathered a shot over the bar from 30 yards, it didn’t trouble the keeper but it showed that the home side wanted to put this game to bed.
With seven minutes of the second period played Yves Zama replaced Boyne, there was a sense of real excitement from the touchline as the striker returned to the Brian Boys Stadium. Excitement that was lamost justified just seconds later when he came close with a header after some good football from Bacup led to Bryan floating in a cross.
Things appeared to settle in the second half and Borough were allowed to play the football that has brought them such good results in the past 5 games. More opportunities were created and Hanley were forced to defend for long periods.
O’Connor proved just how dangerous Bacup could be from set pieces when his freekick almost found it’s way into the top corner on 70 minutes. Hanley’s keeper made a blatant save but a goal kick was inexplicably given.
With just over 10 minutes left to play Kelvin Trippier linked up well with Higgins to send Barlow down the right. The forward got the best of the opposing fullback and sent a good ball low into the box. The Hanley defence failed to deal with it and gifted Zama the goal that was always in the script.
Bacup managed the final ten minutes of the game wonderfully, taking no chances and defending from the front to ensure the visitors couldn’t get back into the match. Aside from two efforts, that both went high and wide, in stoppage time Hanley never looked like levelling things up.
The win moves Bacup up to 12th, just 2 points off the play-off places and with games in hand over most of those above them in North West Counties Football League Division One.