It was a frustrating afternoon for Macclesfield Town at Gigg Lane, as Sol Campbell’s side failed to rattle high-flyers Bury.
Scott Wilson and Harry Smith had the best of the chances for Macc, but these were few and far between against the well-drilled Shakers side.
Nicky Maynard put Bury ahead after Fiacre Kelleher’s brave block in the six-yard box fell to the striker, who found the net with a helping hand from the crossbar.
An unfortunate handball against Miles Welch-Hayes led to Jay O’Shea scoring a penalty with 15 minutes remaining, before Scott Wharton headed home in injury time.
Bury put the Silkmen under immediate pressure from kick-off, as Danny Mayor squirmed to the byline and pulled the ball back into a crowded penalty area, but the chance was snubbed out by Macc.
It did not take long for Campbell’s side to muster a chance of their own, albeit a difficult one. Three minutes later, Smith connected with a looping cross, but he struggled to head it goalwards under pressure.
Both Maynard and Michael Rose tested the waters by taking speculative shots from distance, but neither could break the deadlock for their respective sides.
This was until the 24th minute, when Maynard thundered the ball home close-range.
Before that, Macc were enjoying a positive spell in possession and worked a great chance for Wilson. David Fitzpatrick delivered a peach of a cross to the striker, but he couldn’t make contact with defenders bearing down on his tail.
Kieran O’Hara was forced to snub Maynard when the Bury top scorer escaped the offside trap after half an hour. Callum Maycock then ran in behind the Shakers’ defence and squared to Wilson, who’s goal-bound shot was blocked.
Both defences stood resolute until the interval, with Fitzpatrick and O’Hara working together to clear a teasing Bury square-ball, before a dangerous Wilson cross didn't fall kindly for neither Smith or Cole in the area, and the Shakers somehow cleared.
Half time: Bury 1-0 Macclesfield Town
Ryan Lowe’s side came out of the blocks the fastest, forcing O’Hara to react quickly to Maynard creeping through the back-line by pouncing on the striker’s shot.
Maynard then wasted a glorious chance for Bury, meeting a corner at the front post and flicking it across the face of the goal.
Macc pushed forward, looking for an end product to some positive spells on the pitch, but Smith’s stooping header could only direct a right-sided cross straight into the gloves of Joe Murphy with almost an hour played.
Most of the threat was coming from the flanks, Rose’s corners proved to cause panic at times and Fitzpatrick was on hand to deliver a series of alarming crosses. Reece Cole also forced a save from Murphy from distance.
However, any momentum was killed when Welch-Hayes was adjudged to have blocked Mayor’s shot with his hand, and O’Shea scored the resulting penalty.
O’Hara produced a fine save with 10 minutes remaining, stretching high to parry a venomous strike away from goal, before Smith almost halved the deficit by heading a Rose corner narrowly over the bar.
To flatter the score-line for the hosts, Wharton nodded home an in-swinging free-kick with the last attack of the game.
Full-time: Bury 3-0 Macclesfield Town
Away attendance: 496
Bury: Murphy, Thompson, O’Connell, Adams, Mayor (Danns 87’), Rossiter, Wharton, McFadzean, O’Shea, Lavery (Moore 80’), Maynard (Telford 68’).
Subs: Moloney, Stokes, Cooney, Omotayo.
Macclesfield Town: O’Hara, Fitzpatrick, Kelleher, Wilson (Biabi 83’), Smith, Welch-Hayes, Maycock (Stephens 87’), Arthur (Martis 80’), Rose, Cameron, Cole
Subs: Idem, Durrell, Evans, Demetriou.
By Matt Bates