Own goals and gaffes at Gigg Lane

mainImageBury 1-1 Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, December 14th 2013

I don’t know about you but if I had three Christmas wishes for the Cobblers this year, near the top would be the ability to take a penalty. It’s three missed from three now this season with the latest one still lost somewhere in Greater Manchester air space following Chris Hackett’s wild attempt with this game locked at 1-1 just before half time. Football is full of ‘what if’ moments and, though we won’t know just yet how significant it could have been had the ball found the goal net and not Auntie Nettie’s back yard, it’s bound to come up at the end of the season if we’re a point away from our new realistic target of finishing in the top twenty.

Frustrating at that was, though, this seemed a much improved away performance and was one in which we showed some character for a change rather than just accepting the usual fate of defeat on our travels. How we could have done with this type of battling show a week ago at Grimsby or at (Insert most League Two teams here). Rather than sit back and go for a draw there was more intent about the Cobblers on Saturday and we come away thinking that it’s not a lucky escape but one in which we could easily have won.

Bury were all about impressing new boss David Flitcroft and things were looking like they were going to script for him when they were awarded a penalty which Daniel Nardiello, a recent loan acquisition from Rotherham United, duly converted. Take note Cobblers. It wasn’t long before Town were back in things and I felt a little taken aback even when we drew level.

Hackett was the provider of the ball in and Bury defender Dean Howell was feeling charitable enough to head into his own net and to bring us back to parity. Try as he might, it was never going to match the gloriousness of Andy Parrish’s own goal for the Shakers against us in 2006 but we’ll take it – hey, if no-one else is going to score away from home for the Cobblers then we may as well enlist some help!

There was a frantic ending to the half with Matt Duke pulling of an excellent save from Nardiello before Izale McLeod was brought down by the wonderfully named William Edjenguele for the big moment in the game. Hackett, though, preferred to aim for a passing seagull rather than the goal so it remained 1-1 for half-time.

The second half was tight and tense and could genuinely have gone either way, again proving the thin line that we tread in this relegation battle. Chances fell at both end with Duke again denying Nardiello and McLeod being foiled by Brian Jensen in the Bury goal. With a minute left on the clock, Mathias Doumbe found himself in a glorious position but shot wide of the mark when it looked like he was slotting in the winner and then substitute Roy O’Donovan had claims for a third penalty of the game in stoppage time.

With our previous spot kick efforts this season, though, there would have been no guarantees at all about the outcome even if referee Mr Miller had given it. A point a piece it was, then, and still no escape from the drop zone with one game left before Christmas. This slow improvement is taking its time to show itself in league positions and it shows just how difficult it is to get out of trouble from a dodgy start to the season.

Bury appear to be going back in the right direction and perhaps it was actually a good time to play them as David Flitcroft is still looking at the squad left behind to him – rather that than face them after a January of tweaks that should get them out of the troubled pack themselves.

Wycombe at home is up next and with some sense of momentum returning to Sixfields again we may yet be in for some long awaited Christmas cheer. So long as Santa sends everyone instructions on penalty taking we may be able to boost that points tally by a few come the New Year!

Bury v Northampton Town: Match Preview

bury-stadiumBury v Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, December 14th 2013

There’s a new man at the helm at Gigg Lane and on Saturday afternoon David Flitcroft will take charge of Bury for the first time. Having played over a hundred games for the Shakers between 2004 and 2006, Flitcroft knows exactly what the club is all about and he sets his sight on the Cobblers in his opening match as the top boss.

He will know exactly what the requirements are and has past experience of rescuing a season having taken Barnsley to Championship safety on the final day of last season. This time around was tougher, though, and Flitcroft left the Tykes at the bottom of the table before quickly returning to work at a Bury side who will be looking for more of the magic that saw their former player save his last club from the drop.

The Cobblers are still wobbling away from home and having been knocked out of the FA Cup by Grimsby Town last weekend we need something to help us put that result to bed. Victory at Gigg Lane would guarantee a leap out of the bottom two so that should be good incentive to try and upset the incoming manager.

After a good start to the season, the Shakers have slipped to the wrong end of things and are just two points above the Cobblers. It makes it a huge game for us as well as the hosts as we prepare for a Christmas period that could shape the second half of the season.

McLeod...returns for Town

McLeod…returns for Town

Team News…

David Flitcroft has the luxury of no new injury worries or suspensions coming into his first game as Bury boss. Shaun Beeley sat out of their cup defeat to Cambridge United but he’s back in contention to face Town.

The Cobblers have Izale McLeod available again after the new loan signing was cup tied for Saturday’s defeat at Grimsby whilst Stuart Dallas is back after missing that game for the same reason. Roy O’Donovan has been back in training and is back in the squad so he will compete with McLeod, Clive Platt and Luke Norris for starting berths up front.

Previous Six Meetings…

09/04/11: Cobblers 2-4 Bury (League Two)

Bury stunned the Cobblers in the last game between the sides by going four up inside an hour thanks to goals from Ryan Lowe, Damien Mozika and two from Nicky Ajose. Shaun Harrad’s brace got us back some pride but the points went back to Gigg Lane as Bury took a giant leap towards League One.

21/08/10: Bury 1-1 Cobblers (League Two)

Steve Guinan’s penalty put the Cobblers in front with a penalty on the half hour mark but David Worrall’s second half goal meant that the points were shared.

08/05/10: Cobblers 1-1 Bury (League Two)

On the final day of the 2009/10 season and with the Cobblers chasing an unlikely playoff berth, Ryan Lowe’s goal on the stroke of half time sunk any hopes of a dramatic end to the campaign. The second half saw Bury’s James Poole sent off before Bayo Akinfenwa scored with his final touch of the ball in that spell as a Cobblers player to give us a draw.

10/10/09: Bury 2-2 Cobblers (League Two)

An excellent fight back from Town in October 2009 as David Worrall and Ryan Lowe’s goals were cancelled out by second half strikes from Courtney Herbert and Bayo Akinfenwa.

28/01/06: Bury 0-2 Cobblers (League Two)

The Cobblers had this game sealed before half time as an own goal from Andy Parrish and an Andy Kirk effort gave us the lead before the sending off of Bury’s Nathan Jarman gave us the platform to ease through the second half and claim an important three points.

10/09/05: Cobblers 1-1 Bury (League Two)

Simon Whaley gave the Shakers the lead in a tight contest at Sixfields. Allan Smart was sent off for the visitors, though, and the Cobblers grabbed an equaliser through Ryan Gilligan with seven minutes to play.

The man in the middle…

Nigel Miller is the referee at Gigg Lane on Saturday and he last officiated a Cobblers game in our 3-1 defeat at Rotherham United in February. He only refereed his first game on this season two weeks ago at Notts County’s home defeat to Brentford in League One.


It’s bad fortune that the Cobblers are coming up against Bury in their first game under a new manager but I think we can get something out of it to get back on track after the cup exit at Grimsby. 1-1.

Fan Feature: Bury FC

buryFor this week’s Fan Feature, Bury fan Stephen Farrar looks at his club’s new manager as well as the expectations from here on in after a disappointing first half of the season. You can follow Stephen on Twitter at @steviebury.

David Flitcroft has been appointed manager this week…after a decent spell in the Championship with Barnsley, does the appointment excite you?

Yes. I think he was very unlucky to be sacked at Barnsley after doing a decent job. Last season he performed a great escape when they looked dead and buried after Keith Hill was sacked. This season he didn’t get off to the greatest start but without trying to upset any Tykes fans, they are not the biggest club in the Championship and from what I believe have one of the smallest budgets. If he is anything like when he was a player here I’m sure he will have the players running through walls for Bury Football Club.

Flitcroft has already said that he plans to reshape the team when the transfer window opens in January…what changes do you think need to be made?

Well….. Centre back is the main problem. Edjenguele & (former Cobblers defender) Nathan Cameron are very prone to making a few errors a game. First choice keeper Brian Jensen’s contract is up in January so that is another that needs filling. Left back is also a bit of a problem for us after experienced Gareth Roberts hasn’t really stepped up to the mark. They are the main areas he could do with strengthening but I will also suggest he gives some of the other players in the squad a game like Grimes, Holden etc.

What went so wrong in the early part of this season?

We actually started off really well. We competed very well against a very decent Chesterfield side in which the difference was them taking their chances. We then beat Crewe in the Capital One Cup after a very good performance. We played very well in the next game against Oxford only to lose out after 2 poor decisions by the officials. Then in the next few games we beat Accrington 3-0, Drew 2-2 at Burton after conceding in the last minute, scored 3 goals against Premier League Norwich although we did concede 6 and finally beat Cheltenham 4-1 to top off a very good August. Since then however we have lost all confidence, making gaffes in our box and missing sitters in the opponent’s box and completely bypassing midfield.

What were your expectations at the start of the season and how have they changed now?

At the start of the season I said top half because I was aware after last season’s financial issues we would be a club in transition and therefore shouldn’t expect to bounce straight back. Right now I would take anything above bottom 2 because I think if we can get through this season we can then keep the backbone of the squad, get rid of the deadwood and add a little more quality. Hopefully then next season we can be up and around the play-offs in the 2014/15 season.

And, finally, a prediction for Saturday’s game?

Sorry Cobblers but I think with the new manager effect we will manage to grab the win in this big six pointer, however we are still prone to an error at the back so i will go 2-1 to the mighty Shakers. All the best for the rest of the season and I hope you stay up as I have always enjoyed my trips to Northampton.

Just a quick added extra to any Cobblers coming to the JD Sta…. Gigg Lane, who like a great pint of real ale: get down to Trackside in the centre of Bury. Great atmosphere and great pint from the board of 10 real ales and it’s only £3 in a taxi to Gigg Lane or a 15 minute walk.

Bury FC Links…

Official Website: http://www.buryfc.co.uk/

Forums: http://www.mannyroadend.co.uk/messageboard.php


Twitter: https://twitter.com/buryfcofficial

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BuryFCOfficial

BBC Sport Section: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/teams/bury

Local News Section: http://www.burytimes.co.uk/sport/football/shakers/

Stadium Guide: http://www.footballgroundguide.com/bury/index.htm

Why we shouldn’t fear the ‘Flitcroft Factor’

david flitcroftEver the pessimist when it comes to the Cobblers, I tend to look at upcoming fixtures with senses of dread rather than anticipating where we can dismantle the opposition. Be it a shocking run of form at an opponent’s stadium, a dodgy referee appointment or, as it’s been for most of 2013, the Cobblers are playing away.

So it came as sad news to myself and others like me when ex Barnsley man David Flitcroft was appointed Bury manager this week, meaning that his first game in charge comes against the Cobblers this Saturday. Automatically I went into defeatist mode with the general thinking being that new managers usual begin their tenures with a big win. We’re doomed. Or so I thought.

One thing could cheer me up. How about if the above wasn’t actually true and that the new manager impact doesn’t come into effect immediately but is more a case of a slow burn. That would tend to make more sense with little time, in most cases, to have a good look at squads and get some sort of cohesion going for their debut match at the helm. I got to work and became the geek that never left me once more by looking at every League Two manager and how they got on in their first game in charge. The results made me feel a lot better about Saturday…I hope they lift some negative vibes from others too.

The below shows all League Two managers and the results of their first games in charge. For those in the middle of changing their boss (i.e. Scunthorpe, Portsmouth and Bury) I’ve used the result of the first game under the previous manager. It makes for interesting reading:

Manager Team Appointed First game Result
Chris Wilder Oxford United 21-Dec-08 Salisbury 2-1 Oxford L
Paul Cook Chesterfield 25-Oct-12 Chesterfield 0-1 Barnet L
Phil Brown Southend United 25-Mar-13 Bradford 2-2 Southend D
Brian Laws* Scunthorpe United 29-Oct-12 Gillingham 4-0 Scunthorpe L
Keith Hill Rochdale 22-Jan-13 Cheltenham 0-0 Rochdale D
Gary Rowett Burton Albion 17-Mar-12 Burton 0-1 Northampton L
Graham Alexander Fleetwood Town 06-Dec-12 Fleetwood 0-0 Southend D
Justin Edinburgh Newport County 04-Oct-11 Newport 0-3 Southport L
Wayne Burnett Dagenham and Redbridge 26-Feb-13 Bradford 1-1 Dagenham D
Jim Bentley Morecambe 13-May-11 Morecambe 0-1 Barnet L
Paul Tisdale Exeter City 26-Jun-06 York 0-0 Exeter D
Neal Ardley AFC Wimbledon 10-Oct-12 Wimbledon 1-2 Cheltenham L
Mark Yates Cheltenham Town 22-Dec-09 Cheltenham 0-1 Bournemouth L
Colin Cooper Hartlepool United 24-May-13 Rochdale 3-0 Hartlepool L
Gareth Ainsworth Wycombe Wanderers 24-Sep-12 Dagenham 3-0 Wycombe L
John Sheridan Plymouth Argyle 06-Jan-13 Plymouth 2-1 Morecambe W
Guy Whittingham * Portsmouth 07-Nov-12 Bury 2-0 Portsmouth L
Paul Cox Mansfield Town 31-May-11 Mansfield 1-1 Bath City D
James Beattie Accrington Stanley 13-May-13 Newport 4-1 Accrington L
Kevin Blackwell * Bury 26-Sep-12 Stevenage 2-2 Bury D
Nigel Worthington York City 04-Mar-13 Wimbledon 3-2 York L
John Ward Bristol Rovers 17-Dec-12 Aldershot 2-2 Bristol Rovers D
Aidy Boothroyd Northampton Town 30-Nov-11 Northampton 1-1 Crewe D
Alan Knill Torquay United 20-Feb-13 Torquay 0-1 Port Vale L

Incredibly, just ONE League Two manager started off their reign with a victory, that being Plymouth Argyle’s John Sheridan. Nine of them started with draws but FOURTEEN began with defeats. Added to this, new Bury boss Flitcroft was beaten in both of his first two games as Barnsley manager.

While all of this doesn’t, of course, mean that we will automatically get what would be a mammoth result at Gigg Lane it does go a little way to dispelling the myth of the ‘new manager’ factor. I’ll have to find something else to worry about this week!