- Luke McCormick must be commended for his display between the sticks for visitors Plymouth Argyle. The Pilgrims were on the back foot for the majority of proceedings in the battle of the bottom four but the custodian was magnificent when called upon (particularly the triple save) and gave his teammates a much-needed boost by way of both a point and a clean sheet.
- Nadir Çiftçi, spearheading the attack for the visitors, wasn’t really able to worry a backline that had conceded two per game up until Saturday’s match. He has a reputation for quick feet and no shortage of skill but little of that was on show just when the need for it is at its peak. His best effort came with an admittedly innovative piece of thinking in the first half, looking to catch Joe Murphy unawares by aiming for the top corner after recovering from a slip.
- Chris Maguire had a day to forget by his lofty standards. Deployed in a more supportive role to target man Michael Smith in the absence of top goalscorer Jermaine Beckford, he wasn’t really able to influence the game as much as manager Lee Clark would like. I still have a suspicion he’s feeling his way back into the fray after a stop-start season. In truth, he was upstaged a little by the industry of veteran substitute Ryan Lowe who has since celebrated his 39th birthday!
- Equally high expectations were held for Harry Bunn. If you watch the footage back, you can see the ideas are there but they just aren’t being applied often enough to really hurt the opposition and some fans are already questioning his signing and his current physical condition. Given the investment in him, it’s unlikely he’ll be removed from the picture completely but with Mihai Dobre adept on either flank (and the return of Jay O’Shea on the horizon), he needs to convince supporters he’s worth the fee and a continued place in the first XI. The Romanian loanee on the other hand was much more direct and used his pace to constantly threaten Gary Miller and should’ve scored when clean through on goal in the final few minutes.
- Smith was certainly guilty of missing several gilt-edged opportunities but the important thing to remember about that is that you have to take up the correct positions and anticipate the chances being created in the first instance, so I am loath to criticise him too heavily, even though they were a large contributory factor in Bury not claiming only their second triumph of 2017/2018 in all competitions. With sufficient support (as he received from most areas on Saturday), he is bound to have the ability to make amends. His overall performance is a small ‘plus’ in a column with little company.
- Defensive solidity after back-to-back 3-2 losses was key to Clark’s gameplan; he selected a back four that probably represents most Shakers’ first choices given current availability and with Nathan Cameron offering a dominant figure at centre back and a starting point for attacks at the other end, expect to see it continue for at least the next few league games with bigger tests on the horizon.
- A stalemate at home/away to another outfit bereft of confidence will only ramp up the pressure on Clark (and arguably opposite number Derek Adams, too). You could say that his charges were unlucky not to come out with all three points but the overall team performance was still a few rungs down from where they should ideally be by the eighth match (and let’s not even get into the league position). With the likes of Charlton Athletic, MK Dons and Oxford United to come in the next three third tier fixtures, it’s not going to get any easier for him. Somehow, he must show that he is up to the task or he might find himself high up in the stands permanently…