DIVISION ONE NORTH
Mildenhall Town 0
Bury Town 0
The well-worn cliché goes that the form book should be ripped up and discarded where a derby encounter is concerned.
The rationale behind such a sentiment comes from the fact that with bragging rights at stake for the victors, teams tend to raise their levels in pursuit of glory.
However, Tuesday night’s clash between Mildenhall Town and Bury Town — the first league meeting between the Suffolk rivals in over 10 years — went against that common perception, as neither team seemed to be raring to go.
Goals had been hard to come by for both sides ahead of their Recreation Way reunion.
Mildenhall have failed to score in four of their previous five outings in all competitions, while visiting Bury had found the net just once in their last four fixtures.
And, true to form, neither team was able to free themselves from their goal-shy shackles as the match ended in stalemate.
For the hosts, it stretched their winless run in the league to 11 matches, leaving them 19th in the table.
But, with his squad decimated by injuries in recent weeks, Mildenhall boss Dean Greygoose felt the display provided his charges with a platform to build on with the festive period ahead.
“We are where we are at the moment — it has felt like we have had to build two or three teams this season with all the injuries we have had,” said Greygoose.
“What was pleasing was the fact I was able to put virtually the same side out as Saturday (a 2-0 loss at Potters Bar Town).
“I think that showed and the performance was more like us. We are still unbalanced, but I am a lot happier.
“It is a very young team and this is a tough league — the strongest it has been for some time.
“We have been punished at times for making silly mistakes and not being clinical enough. But tonight is something we can build on. We might not have been great for 90 minutes, but there was a lot to be pleased with.
“I am really chuffed for the boys because they have had a lot of bad luck.”
It was the 11th-placed visitors that carved out the game’s first two chances of note, but on both occasions the target was missed.
Centre-back Kyran Clements headed over from a corner in the 12th minute, before Ollie Hughes shot wide three minutes later after he had shown the Mildenhall defence a clean pair of heels.
At the other end, Jack Wilkinson — playing in a more advanced role — powered Joe Hood’s free-kick harmlessly wide as Mildenhall looked to make some inroads. And they nearly broke the deadlock before the break, with Wilkinson again involved.
It was the former AFC Sudbury man who nipped into the blindside of Bury goalkeeper Ben Mayhew to meet Marcio Pereira’s inswinging right-wing cross.
The ball broke loose in the box for ex-Bury striker Nick Ingram, but he was denied a first goal in a yellow shirt by former Mildenhall skipper David Cooper, who got back on the line to hack clear the danger.
The home team carried that momentum into the second half as Jacob Brown headed over just two minutes after the restart, with Jake Kerins then working Mayhew from a free-kick moments later.
Clear goalscoring opportunities were at a premium for a long period thereafter, though the neighbours did have one opening each in the dying embers to snatch all three points.
Having denied his old side a goal during the first half, it appeared Cooper was going to get an assist to his name in the 87th minute when his floated cross from deep picked out an unmarked Ollie Hughes at the back post.
The forward’s first touch left him with only Mildenhall goalkeeper Jacob Marsden to beat, but the former Ipswich Town trainee spread himself well to make the save.
Mildenhall, meanwhile, went close in the third minute of stoppage time when centre-back Tom Debenham — once of Bury — headed Wilkinson’s corner just wide of the upright.
Mildenhall: Marsden, Hood, Curry, Kerins, Debenham, Simpson (Collins 84), Pereira (Holder 71), Green, Ingram (D Brown 66), J Brown, Wilkinson
Journal Man of the Match - Tom Debenham: The centre-back did not put a foot wrong defensively, making plenty of good decisions along the way. Had he scored late on it would have rounded off a very good performance.
n Mildenhall’s continued bid for a first league victory since October 14 sees them host Brentwood Town on Saturday (3pm).
Greygoose’s side go into the contest just two places and one point below their visitors.
The Essex outfit are without a win in their last three games, the most recent of which saw them blow a three-goal lead away at Barking to draw 3-3.