- First of all, it would be totally remiss of me not to congratulate the superb showing by a Woking side who I knew would be up for the fight, just as they had ably demonstrated in the first meeting. Yes, their task was made easier for them by a Bury outfit who turned in perhaps the worst cup ‘performance’ at Gigg Lane for decades. Take nothing away from them though. Inih Effiong once again had the opposing centre backs all over the place, Regan Charles-Cook and Joe Ward found space time and time again in behind the wing-backs with incisive, counter-attacking football. There was even time near the death for substitute Jamie Philpot to repeat his goalscoring exploits from the original encounter in Surrey. They defended as a team, passed the ball in midfield with purpose and gave a harsh lesson in finishing to Michael Smith in particular. The target man hit the woodwork twice and was left to curse his misfortune. Peterborough or Tranmere Rovers await the Cards and based on their two displays against the Shakers, you wouldn’t bet against them progressing to the third round.
- Turning the focus back inwards, I have stated before on these pages that the supporters have been extremely patient. The ‘line’ where despondency turns to vitriol was crossed last night and justifiably so. Whilst I don’t condone booing or abuse hurled players’ way, the frustration has been building for months and the meek surrender yet again in the first round of the FA Cup was the catalyst for cries of “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” and “you’re only here for the money”, the latter of which is unprecedented at any Bury game. I have been an advocate in spite of the weight of evidence against most of the individuals’ talents to date. The time has now come for them to repay the faith shown in them by Ryan Lowe (and the previous incumbent) in bringing them to the club. Many of those in question were signed in the close season with well-earned reputations and they are currently letting the supporters down. The women’s side and the U18s would have turned in better displays and that’s not being disparaging to either group as they are excelling in their respective leagues.
- Lowe himself cannot completely escape criticism, however. Whilst he is correct to say there’s only so much he can do in terms of tactics, team selection and shape, I don’t think that a 3-5-2 with Phil Edwards at right wing-back plays to his strengths at all. Additionally, the continued selection of Smith and drafting in Nathan Cameron were both costly mistakes. The passing (when it did reach another white shirt) was ponderous and predictable, which almost always allowed Anthony Limbrick’s charges to get back in numbers into their set positions. ‘Passion’ and ‘pride’ are arbitrary, overrated qualities in footballers but on the other hand, a modicum of both are required at this moment in time from the men on the pitch as it’s likely they have just cost the caretaker his shot at becoming permanent manager.
- Where do they go from here? The scenario that seems likeliest to me now, particularly after chairman Stewart Day’s statement this morning, is that the recruitment process for a new manager is expedited and I would expect that new person to be in post after the Shrewsbury Town game. They will find a playing squad whose abilities are being called into serious question from within and without, out of both major cups yet again at the first hurdle and doubtlessly still bottom or very close to it in League One. The portents are unfavourable and the challenge seems increasingly arduous but not yet insurmountable. For all the anger I and many other people share at the time of writing, things can still be turned around. The next appointment is crucial to perhaps even the survival of the club and I fear the disruptive churn seen for the past four years will continue regardless of their identity.