Can a performance where you had chances but didn’t take them be described as good? While we certainly created more chances over the 90 minutes than Shrewsbury, our opponents may also be considering whether they put in a good performance after they had chances themselves to take all three points. I feel I’m going to write this a lot over the next few weeks, but it’s too early in the season to tell whether that performance on Saturday was good or bad, or unlucky or lucky.
The positives on Saturday were some bright individual performances, the fluidity of our front three and the sense that we’re closer to being an effective team than many had imagined. Add a decent striker to the team that played on Saturday and we probably would have won that. The negatives were the failure to score after some promising chances and the worrying lack of physical strength in this side which allowed a limited Shrewsbury side to create some glorious opportunities.
Getting a first win of the league season in this Tuesday night game against Bury will probably dictate the emotions about the Shrewsbury result. A win would ease the tension around the club, possibly giving way to the hope that we can grow into the season once the transfer window closes. A defeat, or a draw, just adds to the fear that this could be a very difficult season for us.
With the physical threat that Bury are going to offer in this game, I doubt that Tony Mowbray is going to hesitate that much over replacing Ben Stevenson with the now-available Chris McCann in central midfield. Stevenson certainly has the technical ability and attitude to become a great player at this level, but we need to ease him into first-team football carefully.
The only way Stevenson isn’t replaced by McCann in the side is if either Ricketts or Willis are deemed unfit for this game. With Jordan Turnbull having not been signed in time for this game, we’re asking a lot of a back three that is a combination of not 100% fit and inexperienced to make it through this game. You feel that we’re going to have to score more than one goal against a physical Bury side to come out with the win.
With a front three of Kyel Reid, Ruben Lameiras and Jodi Jones likely to start in this game, they are going to need to add cutting edge to their promising approach play. Marcus Tudgay looks to be the only fit, alternative option up front and he could be a useful focal point in attack but I’m not sure who out of Saturday’s front three should be taken out of the side in favour of him.
Last Time We Met
Our last meeting with Bury offered hope that we could move back up the gears after stalling last winter. On Legend’s Day and on the same weekend as the Jimmy Hill memorial service at the cathedral, there was a special atmosphere heading into the game despite having failed to win the previous five games.
It was a near-perfect performance from the Sky Blues with two early goals scored from set-pieces via Chris Stokes and Baily Cargill. James Maddison scored a classic James Maddison goal, drifting past a few defenders and curling the ball accurately into the corner of the net from outside the box. There was time for Leon Clarke to fluff some excellent chances before John Fleck made it four with a long-range effort. The second-half was played at near-walking pace with Adam Armstrong bagging a brace with two identikit goals on the counter-attack.
How Are They Doing?
Bury have been paying the price over the summer for failing to achieve promotion after big splurge in the transfer market last year. The spending on players such as Leon Clarke, Peter Clarke and Tom Pope was reportedly funded by high interest loans secured against the club’s ground and most of the big-earners (barring Tom Pope) have been off-loaded over the past few months.
However, the cloth cutting hasn’t been as dramatic as had been expected, with the proven League One/Championship-level performers in the form of Neil Danns, Ben Williams and Leon Barnett brought into the club to replace the quality they’ve lost. While it’s hard to say that Bury are stronger than they were last season, they certainly aren’t as weak as many thought they would be.
The biggest question mark against this Bury side is not the strength of the squad, but the ability of manager David Flitcroft. Flitcroft is a bit like Chris Coleman, in that his teams can be dire for months on end but occasionally flicker into life over a period of 10 or so games. Bury started last season well only for Flitcroft to fail to arrest a slump that nearly saw them involved in the relegation battle.
As mentioned earlier in this preview, Bury are a team packed with big, physically strong players. Nathan Cameron in central defence, along with a midfield of Tom Soares, Jacob Mellis, Neil Danns and Kelvin Etuhu, with Tom Pope up front will look to impose themselves on the game with physical strength over technical ability.
In comparison to Shrewsbury though, Bury have a little more dynamism and pace to their team via wingers Danny Mayor and Zeli Ismail – both of whom tend to lack in end product – and Greg Leigh at left-back, possibly at the cost of being less secure defensively. We’re going to need to score in this game, but if we can get one early, more should come.
Having Chris McCann available to call on for this game is a massive boost given the general lack of physical presence in the side on Saturday. However, we’re still lacking an attacking and defensive physical presence which makes will make this game tougher than it might otherwise be. Bury will be looking to bully us and live off Tom Pope’s knock-downs, we’ve got to stand up to the test and make sure we put the ball into the net when we’re on top.
I’m really struggling to decide on a prediction here. I feel like it’s a game where an early goal for us could lead to an easy win but the longer it stays goalless, Bury are more likely to score. I’m going to sit on the fence and go for a 1-1 draw.