Saturday’s game represents a watershed moment for both teams. For Bury, it is new boss Lee Clark’s second game in charge but the first occasion when he has had any real time with the players on the training ground to assess them properly. For Charlton, it is an opportunity to breathe some life back into their season, which is threatening to peter out with a dozen matches remaining.
The Addicks have failed to win in any of their last five outings and some of their fans have already started to turn against manager Karl Robinson and his reluctance to deviate much from his tried and trusted formula. The somewhat controversial owner of the London outfit, Roland Duchâtelet, isn’t exactly known for his patience with any of the men in the hot seat during his reign and it wouldn’t come as a massive surprise if a few more poor performances were enough to see off the former MK Dons #1.
Following another below-par showing on Tuesday against Oxford, not helped by the red card awarded to right back Chris Sally, Robinson promised to make several changes to the lineup for tomorrow’s encounter whilst doing his best to plea for more time to shape the squad in his image this summer. At the time of writing, I couldn’t find any definitive information as to whether Sally’s appeal against his three match ban had been upheld.
The problems this season have seldom come in defence, where they have barely conceded more than a goal a game; it has been finding at least one player other than Josh Magennis to chip in consistently to help convert the many draws into wins. Magennis is well known to Lee Clark and indeed, it was he who sold the Northern Irish forward to then Charlton manager Russell Slade in the summer whilst at the helm of Kilmarnock. He has never been prolific at any juncture in his career but has a decent record this season and always works hard for his side.
Robinson has a penchant for a fairly rigid 4-2-3-1 both in and out of possession, as well as shoehorning players who are ostensibly wingers by trade into narrower attacking midfield positions in order to fit his system rather than the other way around. On paper, the likely midfield ‘5’ are vastly superior in pedigree and in some cases talent than Bury’s ‘3’ but have for the most part performed woefully below what they are capable of. Jake Forster-Caskey hasn’t yet lived up to his billing since his permanent move from Brighton and Johnnie Jackson has been out of favour in recent weeks but could earn a recall tomorrow. On his day, he can dictate the tempo of a game at third tier level.
As for the Shakers, the only likely change is for Callum Styles, fresh from signing his first professional contract, to come into the first XI in place of the off-colour Scott Burgess. Along with last minute scorer George Miller, they changed the course of the game against Chesterfield and helped Bury stretch play instead of simply sitting deep in midfield areas even with the ball.
Charlton are likely to commit four forward for almost every attack tomorrow and Bury will need to strike the right balance between pragmatism and playing to their strengths and putting pressure on the home side’s backline (even without leading goalscorer James Vaughan).
As such, I am going for an oddly confident 3-1 win for Bury. Call it the new manager bounce, coupled with a more solid defence as of late and options off the bench that can at last make favourable interventions despite lots of occupied treatment tables at Carrington. Just as equally, Charlton have the personnel to deal real damage to Bury and Robinson will be counting on a reaction from his public criticism of his charges… whether it will materialise is another matter entirely. As ever, Exile Jr. made his prediction, opting this time for a 0-0.
I’ll be attending in person and will hopefully have photos, videos and maybe even views of some other travelling fans in my review, phone battery allowing at The Valley!