Bury and Swindon Town know that a win in the clash on Saturday is absolutely vital to gain momentum and pull away from danger. Both teams narrowly lost 2-1 last weekend to Shrewsbury Town and bitter rivals Oxford United, but in truth were well beaten by a well-drilled defence and superior finishing respectively. The damage was already done when goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux was wrongly sent off for not touching Oxford striker Kane Hemmings and he has since his red card rescinded.
Bury welcome back Mayor and Tutte into the fold after long injury lay-offs but are unlikely to feature in the XI from the off. As it’s a home fixture, Mellis, who scored last time out in the late fightback that never actually materialised, should return to the centre of midfield in an otherwise uncharged lineup:
The Robins have now last three on the bounce and confidence is low. First team coach Ross Embleton vowed to help right the wrongs in their last game but the starting XI is unlikely to change too much but the option is there to revert to a three-man back line to help nullify Pope’s strength and aerial ability:
Nicky Ajose is more than just a familar face to the vast majority of Bury fans and, as ever, he will pose a big threat to the most leaky defence in the league by some distance. He is as comfortable operating in the channels as he is centrally, so Kay and Moore will need to be vigilant. He didn’t score on his ‘debut’ for Swindon but still appeared in the right areas, which is half the battle for any forward. The Wiltshire outfit will look to stretch the play and move the ball from side to side quickly, making the pitch as wide as possible and force a narrow Bury team on paper to do likewise.
For Bury to be successful, they must take the game to Swindon from the off. Defensive frailties are still majorly apparent, so the best option would be to get Mellis on the ball as often as possible, playing it to Pennant and Pope. The latter will need more support to escape the close attentions of Lloyd Jones and Raphael Branco and the service into him and Vaughan needs to be of a better quality to do damage. Both Branco and Kay are only one yellow card away from suspension and it would be no surprise to see them both issued with their tenth cautions of the league campaign. Vigouroux’s availability is also a big boost; he is certainly an interesting character but that should not take away from his ability to command his area; he is more unafraid than most to come off his line and out of his comfort zone to help his defence out.
Much like Shrewsbury, Swindon have found goals hard to come by and no current member of the squad has more than three in the league to their name. In Ajose however, they have someone more than proven at third tier level as he showed to devastating effect in a red shirt last term, racking up 25 in all competitions. Bury’s defence are likely to afford him several opportunities and he is normally just as clinical as Vaughan.
Both Swindon and Bury face off against other relegation rivals in the coming weeks and these are likely to be the games that will define their seasons. I will save my prediction for my next post tomorrow, which will include a very different method of doing so!