As with every remaining game between now and the end of the campaign, Bury needed a result more than a performance. Whilst the two together would be nice, the recent switch in shape has left the side looking quite negative in order to really clamp down on the ridiculous number of goals conceded to date. Only one change was made to the starting XI but it was Reece Brown who made way for Andrew Tutte because of an injury.
As I discussed in my preview, Robbie Nelson had several enforced changes to make for last night’s match, with Dean Bowditch also coming in for Nick Maynard. The MK Dons back four looked considerably more inexperienced than their counterparts but were rarely tested in what was a largely comfortable evening for them. Indeed, the best chance of an utterly forgettable first half was from a poor backpass from Tutte, almost letting the lively Chuks Aneke through. Fortunately from a Bury point of view, goalkeeper Joe Murphy was just first to the ball.
The only other thing of note in the opening 45 minutes was James Vaughan struggling with cramp. It was a nice surprise to see him replaced by George Miller as a precautionary move by head coach Chris Brass, but with an out of sorts Tom Pope, almost all the pressure was then on him to put the ball in the back of the net. All three midfielders were sitting quite deep, roles that were ill suited for all of them but especially Jacob Mellis, who isn’t nearly as effective in withdrawn positions on the pitch.
Indeed, the only instance in which Bury found themselves in behind the visitors’ defence was from a searching long pass by Greg Leigh. It took a heavy touch off Miller’s knee in an attempt to control it and his shot from an acute angle was easily stopped by David Martin. Pope then had a headed half chance on the rare occasion when the Shakers committed bodies forward but he just isn’t getting into the right places at the moment and, coupled with the current tactics, is severely limiting his effectiveness in what has otherwise been a season he has contributed to massively. Neither Ryan Lowe nor Jermaine Pennant, on as second half substitutes, had much impact on proceedings.
The second period had an extremely similar pattern to the Swindon game on Saturday; MK Dons would cut through Bury’s midfield almost at will but find the combined forces of their former captain Antony Kay, Leon Barnett and especially Cameron Burgess rock solid. Then, in the exact same spot inside the penalty area, the game’s only clear cut chance fell to Stuart O’Keefe. However, he leaned back and blasted the shot well over the bar.
To almost everyone’s relief, the final whistle came and both teams had largely cancelled each other out. A better balance needs to be struck between defence and attack for the Shakers to maintain third tier status this season. Another massive game looms large on Saturday away to Chesterfield but a new face will be in the dugout. More on that in the next couple of days…