- The Sword of Damocles must surely be hovering above Lee Clark’s head after last night’s last-gasp 2-1 defeat at local rivals Oldham Athletic, which came as a surprise to almost precisely zero of the long-suffering Bury fans and especially those gathered in thinner numbers than would normally be the case at Boundary Park (a combination of woeful form and enthusiasm waning are two chief reasons for that).
- Leo Fasan has had to face some criticism on these pages and amongst the fanbase as a whole but he was arguably the Shakers’ best performer, repelling the scheming Jack Byrne and Craig Davies on multiple occasions. Illness to Joe Murphy returned him between the sticks and in truth, there was very little he could do with either goal but he did apply himself well in the first 45 minutes when the Latics were looking the much more dangerous going forward. Ousmane Fané kept finding space on the left where he was able to drift into far to frequently without real cost to his side from a defensive standpoint.
- The movement for the opening goal shows what confidence can do to players largely unheralded but still talented. Eoin Doyle reached double digits for 2017/2018 in just his tenth outing in a blue and red shirt, finishing off a move which saw three other teammates involved as they danced around their statuesque opponents, rendering the numbers they had back behind the ball absolutely useless. I’m sure Richie Wellens will be looking to extend the Preston North End striker’s loan deal to the end of the campaign as his top priority.
- Rohan Ince continues to look lethargic and sluggish whenever he plays, particularly with the ball. It’s impossible to know for certain whether it is down to a lack of match fitness, something more abstract or a lack of desire to continue giving his best efforts to a manager on the brink. Either way, the persistent deployment of only two individuals in central midfield is hurting the side’s ability to both retain and regain possession, which in turn affects every single other area of the pitch. It remains the largest on-field issue and the late appearances of Josh Laurent and Andrew Tutte could mean his gametime is further restricted in the coming weeks.
- Tom Aldred’s excellent headed equaliser only serves to re-emphasise the need for goals from people not called Jermaine Beckford. In a rare moment of haste, Callum Reilly took a free-kick and sprayed the ball wide to Jay O’Shea, who was at the time revelling in his advanced role. At the byline, he managed to pick out the former Blackpool skipper and his powerful effort bounced in with the aid of the crossbar. That he achieved this whilst leaning backwards only serves to enhance it and the BL9 outfit will need that creativity from the Irishman to aid their approach play, which has often looked pedestrian.
- Compare and contrast the centre backs from both teams. Granted, neither grouping are bulwarks of solidity judging from the goals against column but Peter Clarke and Kean Bryan both appeared extremely comfortable with their duties, their differing attributes on and off the ball complement each other well. The former loanee at Gigg Lane kept Jermaine Beckford as quiet as he been all season long, which is no small feat. The men in black however are more disparate. Aldred is a complete mismatch for a left-sided role in a three; Eoghan O’Connell, whilst generally doing things in a calm manner, blotted his copy book with the winner at the death. Phil Edwards is a conservative but accomplished full-back masquerading as the right of the trio with neither the height nor the pace to deal with quick, direct balls in behind the line. The unit looks much weaker as a result.
- Michael Smith has looked off-colour for several games now and it is telling that, Chris Maguire aside, there were no forward options on the bench, making Clark’s decision to introduce Tutte for him beyond baffling considering the confidence boost going for broke and winning could have achieved for his charges. That isn’t an indictment of Tutte at all but it points to the manager’s apparent stubborness to reintroduce Nicky Ajose into the fold, which is cutting off the legs of any real Plan B in games. In the channels, he could’ve found some joy against a tiring backline but we probably won’t see him grace the field again with the current man at the helm.
- Yet again, my warnings of what an opposing player can do went unheeded by the coaching staff*. Johny Placide, the Haitian custodian for the hosts, has excellent ability at his feet. Sometimes, he uses them instead of his hands, which can occasionally appear awkward or even prove costly. On the other hand, his stellar save from Beckford and subsequent quick thinking and accurate kicking won his teammates all three points. Aaron Amadi-Holloway was thrown on to do just that and he received the long pass from his goalkeeper with no shortage of good control, holding off O’Connell much too easily and firing past the helpless Fasan to provide a dramatic finish. You could argue the deathblow was cruel on the visitors but they didn’t deserve to win and are paying the price week in, week out for Clark’s hapless management of the talent at his disposal. Wellens has galvanised his struggling side and been a transformative presence in such a short time. Something similar is now required at Bury and immediately. Surely even Stewart Day must now take action?
*Obviously, I don’t actually expect them to read it but it’s amazing what a bit of scouting of the opposition can turn up. It doesn’t always stop things happening but it certainly reduces the risk of being caught unaware…