There’s nothing like a much-needed victory to improve the mood in the camp but now Lee Clark must prove that he can turn an impressive win over Oxford United into a sustained run to fire Bury back up the table and into a position more befitting of the outlay on the talented roster in the close season. Tomorrow, they welcome Robbie Neilson’s MK Dons to Gigg Lane, a venue the visitors have never lost at and they will be aiming to make it 10 points from a possible 12 in the process. The Buckinghamshire outfit had a slow start to 2017/2018 but have picked up momentum in September and reside in mid-table with similar pretensions of achieving a top-six finish as their hosts.
Barring any further injuries sustained in training since Wednesday morning, even Clark is likely to stick with the same XI that started; there is a chance Neil Danns might start in place of Callum Reilly but I envision once more that he’ll come on around the hour mark. His presence might be required up against another strong-looking midfield with greater numbers in more withdrawn areas. Chris Maguire will go toe-to-toe with Ousseynou Cissé, so he might not have the same freedom to drift between the lines as on Tuesday.
Scott Wootton and George Williams are one of those central defensive pairings often seen at the moment where one member has the height and strength and the other has the pace and is better on the ball; the difference here however is that Williams is quite short for someone playing at centre back (although he has been utilised across the defensive line previously) but makes up for that with his excellent aerial ability. Nevertheless, he’s more likely to be told to stick to Jermaine Beckford than Michael Smith, even though Beckford’s powerful presence in the box has been demonstrated several times already in 2017/2018.
Callum Brittain has a promising future ahead of him and possesses a strong left foot to go with his preferred right, which in turn offers a more diverse array of passes and crossing ability. On the opposite side, Scott Golbourne is reasonably quick and isn’t short of tenacity in the tackle; he could be asked to double up with Wootton on Smith to prevent him from winning flick-ons for Maguire and Laurent to latch onto. Cissé will offer crucial support to the back four but he cannot be allowed to have space of his own as there is more than one facet to his game, often picking out runners from deep areas with a high degree of accuracy.
Alex Gilbey is a tireless dynamo ahead of him and will usually be the most advanced of the Dons midfield trio when they are in possession. He backs up his tough tackling with a proclivity for taking long shots and playing in teammates, particularly the imposing figure of Osman Sow up top and Ryan Seager. The latter, a loanee from Southampton, is by no means a conventional winger and if anything, he will push to the inside channel at every opportunity to mop up any second balls and be an outlet for Sow, who is yet another player far from a one-trick pony. He is a good technical dribbler and will look to beat the offside trap as often as he will seek out a yard of free space to win headers.
The main threat comes from Gboly Ariyibi on the left. Three goals to his name in the league, the speedster will test Chris Humphrey’s tracking skills to their limit. Equally as comfortable on the right or left, he has the quick feet to unlock defences. Phil Edwards will need to ensure he works in tandem with Humphrey to close the American down before he can punch his way through as he doesn’t need many chances to score.
As for a prediction, I’m going to be positive and say 1-1. The visitors have threats on the bench that also need to be taken into consideration, not least of which is Ethan Ebanks-Landell, recovering from an injury. It could be another open game but I wouldn’t expect as many chances to fall the way of the hosts. Even if a second win in a week is achieved, the postponement of next Saturday’s derby at managerless Oldham Athletic could stop the impetus of the mini-revival. Here’s hoping it doesn’t!