DON'T tell any of Bury FC's Under-19 squad that fortune favours the brave after the goings-on at Scunthorpe United's Glanford Park on Wednesday evening.

That old adage was well and truly put to death as they went down to a heartbreaking 2-0 defeat in the semi-final of the Youth Alliance Cup.

The result was a real sickener for the Shakers' young guns but they can walk tall safe in the knowing that they couldn't have given any more to the cause.

With the victory prize a trip to Wembley it was always going to be a bit of a needle match.

And with eight bookings and the coaches of both teams ordered from the dugout that's just what it proved to be.

But it was a lack of punch in front of goal that cost Bury at the end of the day. They hit the woodwork three times during a first half they totally dominated playing quality football in every area of the pitch.

Skipper Steve Halford and midfielder Lee Connell both rattled the bar while leading scorer Lee Buggie hit the post but they were made to pay the ultimate price in the second half for their lack of cutting edge.

The first goal was always going to be critical and so it proved.

After 57 minutes the Scunthorpe coach Paul Wilson was ordered from the field after a run-in with a linesman, it proved to be the pivotal point of the game.

The incident enraged the majority of the 801 crowd and fuelled up the home youngsters who suddenly fancied their chances.

They duly broke the deadlock eight minutes later when two youngsters with first team experience combined - Wayne Graves following up to score a tap-in after Matt Sparrow's 25-yarder came back off the post.

Then seven minutes later substitute Craig Marsh ran half the length of the field to crack a second past Shakers 'keeper John Murphy.

Seconds before Marsh galloped clear a series of skirmishes broke out but referee Mr Stewart - who baffled both teams with his bizarre handling of the match - simply ignored what was going on around him and waved play on.

Ten minutes from time he handed over the handling of the game to a reserve official and as a parting shot invited Shakers coach Andy Feeley to leave the action with him after taking exception to an off-the-cuff remark from the Bury man. There were tears from the Bury youngsters at the final whistle, but it was more a night to celebrate than commiserate as it's many a long year since the club have had such a crop of untapped talent available to them.

"The lads have done magnificently to get where they have, I'm proud of every one of them." said Feeley.

"They've nothing to be ashamed of and they have shown that a number of them are good enough for the first team.

"Maybe in the second half because we didn't get the goal we deserved a little bit of disbelief crept in. But I couldn't have asked any more of them.

"There were some magnificent performances and if Steve Halford doesn't make a Premier Division player I don't know who will, he epitomised the spirit of the team.

"In the Bury Times at the end of last season someone wrote in saying where were all the kids that Neil Warnock could put into the side.

"The players are there for all to see now - no mistake!"

For young skipper Halford missing out on Wembley was a bitter pill to swallow, but he remained philosophical.

"You could see from the lads' reactions at the final whistle how gutted we all were," he said.

"We put them under the cosh in the first half, but nothing came of it. If we'd taken our chances it would have been different but it wasn't to be.

"It's disappointing because every footballers dream is to play at Wembley but we'll bounce back!"

BURY: Murphy, Gaynor, Armstrong, Beale, Halford, Hill, O'Shaughnessy, Connell, Buggie (Porter 64), Martin, Fielding (Gleave 74). Subs not used: Thompson, Abbiss & Lobben.

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