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    Opinion piece from a contributor

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      Returning to their home ground of Gigg Lane after a four-year hiatus, Bury FC faced a tough test against Mark Hughes' Bantams. The match kicked off the 2023/24 pre-season campaign but ended in a difficult 6-0 defeat for the hosts.
      From the start, Bury faced an uphill battle. Emmanuel Osadebe's incisive run and assist to Alex Pattison for the first goal just seven minutes into the game set the tone for the encounter. Bury's defensive solidity was further tested when Andy Cook, last season's top scorer, doubled the visitors' lead five minutes later.
      Despite an early onslaught, the Shakers showed resilience. A disallowed goal for Tyler Smith due to a foul brought a brief respite for the hosts, only for City to find the net twice more before half time, with goals from Osadebe and Luke Ridehalgh.
      Bury displayed flashes of attacking threat with a promising move that resulted in the ball being in the back of the net, but their joy was short-lived as the offside flag was raised against Benito Lowe, denying what would have been a moral-boosting goal.

      After the break, Hughes' side continued their offensive as Bury faced a refreshed City XI. The Shakers' defense was breached again by Matt Derbyshire, bringing the scoreline to 5-0. Despite this, Bury didn't relent. They nearly rewarded their home fans with a goal, only to be denied by a smart save from City's Heath Richardson.
      The final nail came in the form of Jamie Walker's goal, rounding off a tough day for the hosts. Although the result was far from ideal, Bury FC took away valuable lessons from this match and the return to Gigg Lane marked a significant milestone in the club's history, offering a stepping stone towards regrouping and focusing on the rest of the pre-season campaign.

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      Bury FC fell to a spirited Preston North End XI side, with the visitors securing a 3-0 win at Gigg Lane courtesy of goals from Kian Taylor, Lewis Leigh, and Kitt Nelson.
      The visiting team demonstrated their individual prowess early on, as Taylor broke the deadlock in the 25th minute, weaving his way through the Bury defence before slotting home. Skipper Leigh echoed this sentiment as he added to the tally early in the second half.
      Nelson concluded the Preston onslaught in the 72nd minute, signifying a solid performance by the young Preston outfit.
      Despite the result, the atmosphere at Gigg Lane was buoyant, as the hosts marked their weekend with festivities to commemorate their return to their home ground after a four-year absence.
      Facing a Preston team filled with upcoming professionals and scholars, directed by ex-Bury player and manager Ryan Lowe, the Shakers demonstrated promising moments. Mikey O’Neill kicked off proceedings in the 15th minute with an ambitious effort from the edge of the box that soared over the bar.
      Bury FC's Jacob Slater produced a crucial intervention a few minutes later, denying Tom Kilifin’s cross from reaching Andy Briggs, who otherwise would have had a clear chance on goal.
      The Shakers came close again at the 20-minute mark, when Sam Unwin's powerful strike skimmed off the crossbar into the spectators behind the goal.

      Preston managed to seize the advantage, as Taylor danced through the Bury backline, firing the visitors into the lead.
      Bury FC’s James Pradic made two noteworthy saves in quick succession towards the end of the first half, denying both Jack Tinning’s free-kick and a quick shot from Briggs.
      Felipe Rodriguez-Gentile, a key player in the early exchanges of the second half, set up Kitt Nelson whose shot missed the target, before his own effort was saved.
      The visitors added a second goal as Leigh navigated his way through Bury's defensive line and clinically finished in the 54th minute.
      Nelson added a third for the visitors in the 72nd minute, capitalizing on Kaedyn Kamara's excellent work on the left flank, spinning and slotting past the Bury keeper.
      Kamara's attempt at a spectacular long-range goal was thwarted by Jack Atkinson's diving save to his left.
      Late in the game, Connor Comber tested Pradic as the rain began to pour at Gigg Lane, but the Preston shot-stopper ensured his side maintained a clean sheet.

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