Date: 12th August 2015 at 11:02am
Written by: Ian Crowther

League Cup First Round – Wigan vs. Bury FC – DW Stadium – 11th August 2015

The old cliché of football being a game of two halves was never truer as 1407 Bury fans witnessed a storming come back at the DW Stadium last night.

As expected, the Bury manager made a couple of changes from the team that played Doncaster at the weekend. Andy Tutte got the nod ahead of Danny Pugh, however, Hallam Hope took up his new position on the left wing as Tom Pope was dropped to the bench.

The first half Bury performance could be summed up as lacklustre but solid. Bury continually pushed the ball out into phase two play via the wings. However, the strategy proved to be a struggle for Hallam Hope who looked out of position on the left as Mayor operated on the right.

Hope received plenty of opportunities to take the ball forward and at times was marked well by the Wigan midfield. However, there were opportunities for Hope to create and develop connections with Tutte and Soares, but he always had is back to goal, couldn’t turn and run at a man, lacked pace for wing play, and only made one or two connections with the front man Leon Clarke. Notwithstanding tonight`s performance, Hallam Hope is a new project in the wing position, so maybe there is more to come?

Wigan on the other hand, looked effective in midfield. Without doubt, Caldwell has put together a good passing team that control the ball well. Some excellent winding runs from Jacobs and Flores had the Bury back line – Cameron and Riley in particular – under material pressure for a sustained 15-20 minute period. However the Bury defence stood tall and were solid, and Wigan failed to supply a finishing touch or the final ball that carved open a goal scoring opportunity. Walton had a reasonably quiet first half with only one meaningful save to make from Flores.

Wigan edged the play at half time, however when they reached the edge of the Bury penalty box they lacked ideas to push on, however this was down to a great defensive play too. The Bury back line has been impressive in the first two matches and provides an excellent foundation from which to mount the attack.

Flitcroft made changes at half time. Danny Mayor came off which appears precautionary to protect an injury and on came Tom Pope. Wigan began the second half well, attacking Bury’s penalty area in numbers when Peter Clarke looked to upend Michael Jacobs from behind. The referee called a penalty, which was duly converted straight down the middle by Will Grigg: 1-0 Wigan at 46 minutes.

Bury needed more of an attacking edge, as the wing play was not paying dividends. Hope was substituted at 54 minutes for Jacob Mellis who is proving a real handful as his fitness increases. Bury are sharpening a new diamond formation of Etuhu, Tutte, Sores and Mellis which had an immediate impact on the game. It was clear to see Bury were dominating midfield and taking the game to Wigan. Testament to Bury’s dominance, the Shakers keeper Walton was quiet for the rest of the evening. The scene was set for a Bury come back.

Pope was in his element here, he loves the rough and tumble with defenders, and rejuvenated by the manager after Saturday’s performance, he delivered an excellent second half performance as the Bury full backs ran on hitting diagonal crosses for Pope who met every single one by delivering the ball back across the box.

Bury’s first goal came from an over hit cross from Joe Riley on the right to Tom Pope who flicked it out towards Hussey who delivered a terrific whipped ball back across to meet Leon Clarke 6 yards out in the middle of the box and a header that was tipped by the keeper O’Donnell into the left hand top corner of his goal. Leon Clarke is making friends at the club with these performances and his goal celebration allowed the weekends frustrations to ebb away. Bury were back on level terms, 1-1 on the 63rd minute.

Bury fans remembered Neville Neville again with songs and clapping at 65-66 minutes which manager Flitcroft was pleased to hear and brings the club and fans closer together through a tough period for the Neville family and indeed the club.

The ex Bolton player Craig Davis who scored against Bury in their league cup encounter last year, came on for Will Grigg in the 78th minute. Davis failed to have any impact on the game, much to the amusement of the Bury fans after they had been robbed by Bolton in the dying minutes of the game on August 13th 2014.

Bury were in the ascendancy now, and the Wigan fans knew it as their team was permanently camped out in its own half defending a marauding Bury midfield. Tom Pope was making a nuisance of himself, and Leon Clarke looking a constant menace. Etuhu had been immense all night, delivering solidity at the back of the diamond in the second half. However, he was substituted for Danny Pugh at 82 minutes as Bury began to push harder for the winner.

Just as Bury fans thought the game was going to extra time, the ball came forward centrally through midfield and hit the front man Tom Pope on the edge of the box. Incredibly, as Pope had his back to goal, Craig Morgan appeared to throw Pope to the ground. Morgan and Pope had been enjoying a rough and ready contest during the second half, but the Wigan defender had taken it too far this time.

The referee called a penalty immediately, and Leon Clarke slotted the ball home with confidence to O’Donnell’s left. Wigan 1, Bury 2 on 89 minutes. The game ended shortly thereafter with the Bury faithful staying on to congratulate the team on a well earned victory at one of the leagues favourites for promotion.

The manager David Flitcroft was very happy with his team’s performance, stating, “we have come to one of the leagues superpowers, represented and been professional in our pursuit of the game….. we didn’t panic after the penalty, and Pope coming on has affected the game second half…. a great team performance… I am delighted” (Shakers Player).

Looking forward and onto the Swindon Town game on Saturday. This match will be a stern test for Bury as Swindon only just missed out on promotion last year and have made a good start in the league beating Bradford at home 4-1. No doubt the lads are looking forward to seeing how they measure up, as are the fans in what we hope will be a good attendance at the first home game of the season. UTS!

Ian Crowther – 12th August 2015.