Caretaker player-manager Ryan Lowe swatted aside the notion that tonight’s FA Cup replay against fifth tier Woking was ‘an unwanted fixture’, doubtlessly in the knowledge that advancement into the second round at home to Peterborough United or Tranmere Rovers represents an eminently winnable tie and passage to a potentially lucrative, high-profile encounter in the third.
Several players staked their claim in Saturday’s ultimately disappointing 1-1 draw away at Gillingham to be considered from the start, particularly in midfield areas where no quarter will be given by their opponents, just as they demonstrated in the original match. Neil Danns is almost certain to be involved once more and will be looking to ingratiate himself with the home crowd by delivering another stirring performance. Rohan Ince’s presence should add more combativeness to the middle of the pitch, an area often overrun by the Cards last time out.
Nicky Ajose’s horizontal movement should give the men in yellow much more to think about and he is more apt to shoot from distance than most other forwards for the Shakers. Support from Jay O’Shea will be crucial in maintaining an attacking rhythm.
Anthony Limbrick’s charges have only had the one match (to their hosts’ three) since the game in Surrey, which was a hard-fought but dour 0-0 draw at FC Halifax Town. Kane Ferdinand is back from the suspension that kept him out of the original fixture and he will be the lynchpin in midfield. The temptation for them would be to sit deep and hit their League One opponents on the break but I have a feeling there’ll be a little more nuance to their strategy than that and at times, they will be looking to be on the front foot themselves.
As for a prediction, I’m going to go with a 2-1 win for Bury… after extra time. Under Lowe, there has been a steady improvement in the general performance levels but there is still a weakness late on in games, particularly from set pieces, that Woking could exploit. They have the physicality to make it another uncomfortable one and Inih Effiong will still be relishing getting in amongst the centre backs. Victory is vital for the 39 year-old’s standing with the board and it is equally so for the club as a whole; a truly abject record in the oldest domestic cup competition in my lifetime needs addressing this season and, just like in the last campaign, the opportunity is there. On this occasion, they simply have to grab it.