Because of the quick turnaround in matches, this review is shorter than most others written to date. Hope you still enjoy!
Well, that went pretty much how I expected it to go, even down to the starting XIs chosen. If ever there was a game you could be sure that the defences were going to come out on top, it was Saturday’s derby encounter between relegation rivals Oldham and Bury.
The pitch played a massive part in limiting clear cut chances. When they did arrive for the visitors in the first half, they were almost always either scuffed or lacking power. One shot that that can’t be said about however is Taylor Moore’s volleyed effort from a looping cross by his wing-back compatriot Greg Leigh that hit the side netting.
The real moment of controversy in the game occured when canny operator Ryan Lowe was played through by Jacob Mellis and after a tangle of legs with Paul Green, tracking back well from a midfield area. The veteran striker was deemed by the referee to have dived and the problem for Lowe is that he does have a propensity for looking for free kicks and penalties a little too often, so his claim could’ve worked against him in this instance. In hindsight, the ball could’ve been played a little more ahead of him to make it more of a one-on-one situation and it’s difficult to know for certain whether the pitch had an effect on Mellis’ pass.
Bury did most of the running in the first half but it was the Latics who came out the stronger in. A wicked deflection from a Tope Obadeyi cross was cleared with power by Cameron Burgess straight into Ollie Banks’ body. Luckily from a Shakers’ point of view, the ball pinged wide.
Obadeyi is a bit of an enigma in that he has the right build for the game and no shortage of pace or skill but his decision making is what often lets him down and there were several instances of that on show on Saturday’s evidence.
Prolific marksman James Vaughan had to adapt his game a little without Tom Pope in the same side and whilst winning his fair share of aerial challenges, he was very limited in terms of goalscoring opportunities.
Joe Murphy didn’t have a save of real note to make all game long and Connor Ripley had to be alert to save twice late on from perennial substitute George Miller.
The final whistle sounded and the stalemate suited neither team, especially given results elsewhere. Whether it will be enough for Oldham to maintain their brick wall at the back and still be in the third tier for yet another season remains to be seen. They were bereft of quality up front and I’m not certain even drawing the remaining nine games will be enough. They might need to be a little more cavalier if Port Vale can make the most of their own fixture pile-up.
For Bury, losing Jacob Mellis to injury in an area where there aren’t exactly many match-fit candidates for selection is a big worry, even if it only turns out to be for a couple of weeks. The next tranche of fixtures features promotion and play-off hopefuls and the visitors will need to be at their best to upset their loftier opponents, starting with Bristol Rovers tomorrow. A lot rests on the midfield and it is crucial that they remain both firm and creative if they are to stand a good chance of going for promotion next season, which chairman Stewart Day has targeted.
As for the prediction results, it’s 1-0 to me this time. Exile Jr. was dead wrong to anticipate a goal fest!