- The balance is still not quite right between the understandable defensive pragmatism proffered by Bury manager Lee Clark (especially when the personnel tend to change frequently) and the need for a more concerted effort further up the field in order to break sides down and create chances. Make no mistake, Graham Alexander’s Scunthorpe United came to Gigg Lane in buoyant mood but would still have expected more than the all-too infrequent glove laid on their backline away from home. Instead, they restricted the hosts to a single clear-cut opening, which Jermaine Beckford could only stroke onto the post. The absence of Jay O’Shea in particular is continuing to be felt. Luckily, he is nearing his return to fitness and might see some action towards the end of September. The slowly improving Harry Bunn cannot shoulder all the creative responsibilities from open play by himself.
- Josh Laurent was thrust straight into the starting XI following his deadline day loan move from divisional rivals Wigan Athletic. Deployed on the right wing, he admitted after the match had ended that it wasn’t his preferred role but there is some promise there. Picked out by Clark because of his physicality during a scouting mission, as well as his ability to drive forward with the ball, he turned out a competent display against tough opposition. Expect him to move inside and negate the need for Phil Edwards to persist with his anchor man cameo in midfield now that Mihai Dobre is in training with the squad following international duty.
- Similarly shoehorned into the lineup was player-coach Ryan Lowe. Whilst still possessing high intelligence and both the capability and willingness to link play between the second and third phase (which he demonstrated on several occasions), you have to question the manager’s decision to include him so prominently. Granted, neither Chris Maguire or Michael Smith were ready to play the majority of the encounter but it strikes me as though there might have been an ulterior motive to it. Lowe is highly respected by the man currently in post. I emboldened that term because Clark used it repeatedly in his interview after the fallout of deadline day. The veteran embodies his personality and authority on the pitch.
- The Iron were excellent and exceeded my lofty expectations of them. Stout defensively, they also possessed an intriguing mix in midfield. Funso Ojo helped to dictate the tempo with his passing range and Levi Sutton patrolled his area of influence to no small effect. They were also extremely unlucky to have a goal disallowed after much debate between the referee and his assistant. I’m intrigued to see if they keep their impressive displays up more consistently in 2017/2018.
- There aren’t many sides in the tier above who wouldn’t take Josh Morris. His blistering form might have wavered for a spell last season but he has begun the current campaign as he started and ended 2016/2017. His movement both on and off the ball is a nightmare to defend against and he is very potent from set pieces as the Lancashire outfit have experienced twice in successive encounters. The difference this time around is that I feel they are much less reliant on him to conjure up something special with a deeper pool of more well-rounded attack-minded individuals to choose from. He is extremely difficult to stop when on full flow and sometimes, you just have to admire the skill of an opposition player and not focus too much on what led up to the winner.
- Freezing out six players will continue to damage the Shakers’ chances of recovering their poor start under the current setup. I’m loath to bang on that particular drum in every review from here on out but equally, it cannot be ignored altogether. It’s that much more difficult to gel in such an environment and will only be magnified with each result in the next few weeks that doesn’t fall in their favour. Clark is already rapidly losing support from the fanbase and although a timely series of wins would paper over the cracks, they won’t eliminate them completely.