Date: 19th August 2015 at 2:34pm
Written by: Ian Crowther

Match Day Report: Bury FC vs. Fleetwood Town, 7.45pm KO 18th August 2015.

After a poor performance at Oldham at weekend, Fleetwood looked like a different team tonight and came back with a solid midfield display and deservedly took 3 points in front of 2,992 fans at Gigg Lane.

Fleetwood’s midfielders were very quick, first to the ball, laying it off to wingers either side of the pitch. Amari’i Bell in particular, was a menace all night. Bury’s pressing game from the weekend versus Swindon was missing, with Etuhu and Tutte sitting back and letting Fleetwood play out from the back, whilst when Bury had the ball Proctor, Ball and Ryan worked hard and pressed Bury in their own half.

The game began well for Bury with a poachers goal from Leon Clarke on 4 minutes as he linked with a flick from Tom Pope, chased the ball, didn’t give up, and flicked the ball over the keeper from a sharp angle into the net from 7 yards – 1-0 Bury. That is 4 goals in four games now from Leon Clarke – a great return.

The game was tit for tat for several minutes, however it was clear something was missing in the Bury midfield, there was no bite in the tackle or willingness to be first to the ball as Fleetwood played through Bury. The Bury midfield stood off with big gaps between the players which allowed Fleetwood time which they used to their advantage, made wise choices and knocked the ball around.

On 16 minutes Fleetwood scored the second goal of the evening after a period of 5 minutes constant pressure, with several crosses and 3 successive corners that culminated in a defensive mix up and Conor McLaughlin scored from close range with a header to make it 1-1.

Bury went back into the lead after 18 minutes with a terrific goal, a big looping cross from Hussey on the left to Tom Pope on the back post who headed the ball across the goal for Tom Soares to strike from 6 yards. 2-1 Bury.

Fleetwood came back again, Riley caught out of position, somehow he was being dragged into the middle of the field, Cameron came across to Bell, made a mess of the challenge, and the winger swept down Bury’s right and drove the ball across the Bury box only for Walton to spill the ball, when he could have caught it, and it went straight into the bath of the oncoming Hornby-Forbes to smash home from 6 yards.

The foundation of the Bury team has been its defence in the last 3-4 matches, however this strength was also missing. There was no attempt from the experienced players to slow the down the play once ahead, step on the ball and sit on the lead for a while, consolidate and then move again – it was end to end stuff.

The teams went in at the break at 2-2 but there was no doubt Fleetwood were the better team in open play, but Bury, unlike in previous matches, had taken their chances which was great to see.

There were no changes at half time from the Bury manager, and the team set off again to try and capitalise. However on 68 minutes, Fleetwood continued to force considerable pressure on Bury. Tutte failed to give the support required to Hussey as Fleetwood doubled up on the Bury left – Tutte looked off the pace tonight, leaving men unmarked, confusion at times with Etuhu. Hussey began making silly mistakes and giving corners away instead of putting the ball into touch. The ball came over after Tutte failed to put the ball out for a corner, and was drilled in to the net from very close range by Jamie Proctor after the bury Defence were again caught out by a nippy midfield move, and the central defenders failed to pick up the runners. Bury 2-3 Fleetwood.

On 72 minutes, Danny Mayor made a great darting run, dribbling the ball at speed down the Fleetwood left which resulted in a 1 on 1 with the keeper, but Maxwell made a great save and maintained the lead.

On 73 minutes Flitcroft decided to change midfield and took off Tom Soares who had drifted out of the game second half, as had Danny Mayor who kept trying audacious flicks, none of which came off, and on came Jacob Mellis to put some energy into the front play. Mayor still does not look his usual self and is still building football relationships with the front men.

On 79 minutes, Flitcroft changed the front formation by taking off Tom Pope who was arguably Bury’s best player on the night, he just keeps winning headers, very impressive, (not Danny Mayor, do the club’s sponsors watch the same matches we do?), for Danny Rose who came on and was excellent.

Bury then began to drive forward and take the game to Fleetwood. However, the home side were caught on the counter attack as Delle-Verde received the ball inside the Bury penalty box, he was running away from goal towards the Bury bye-line, there was no real danger, and Nathan Cameron shoulder charged the forward, he went down like the proverbial sack of spuds, and was adjudged to have fouled him. It was never a penalty, but for an experienced centre half in those circumstances there was no need to make that challenge in the box. Sarcevic stepped up and smashed it down the middle to make it 2-4 to Fleetwood. It was a long way back for Bury now.

Danny Rose worked hard, coming back into midfield to win headers and trying to link with Mellis and Clarke. On 84 minutes, Bury ploughed forward and after a scramble in the Fleetwood penalty area, Danny Rose slotted home from close range to make it 3-4 to Fleetwood.

There were 5 minutes of added time and Fleetwood made it difficult for Bury to get down the other end to grab an equaliser by playing out time at the Bury corner flag, trying to frustrate them into making fouls or further corners which happened on 4 successive occasions. However the game played on without any further chances being created and Bury lost their first game of the season 3-4.

There were several analytical points to observe. Fleetwood were pacy in midfield and Bury struggled to match this with a midfield press or indeed a strong backline. There were also several uncharacteristic individual mistakes across the back that need to be addressed – but we should not make a big deal of this given recent form.

The Bury team does appear unbalanced at times with no out-ball to the right wing. The full backs were being sucked into midfield play due to Fleetwood`s midfield dominance, which left too much space for Bell and others to exploit. Soares plays better inside with a diamond formation, whereas Craig Jones coming back from injury may give the Bury manager a different option and another gear when its required in the second half and the strategy needs changing. There are a few question marks about depth of the squad, but this is more through injury rather than anything to be concerned about. Overall, a better team beat Bury tonight – take it on the chin, it happens.

Some fans left the stadium unhappy, calling for the managers’ head, which on the face of things is ridiculous at this stage of the season. Criticism is part of the game however it needs to be constructive so as not to demoralise the team – if it is reasoned and has a point then fair enough, but the team have been playing well until tonight. The last thing player’s need is to hear fans having a pop for no apparent reason other than early frustration – keep a lid on it lads!

We look forward to Crewe away at the weekend and a trip to Gresty Road. Bury could do with a win soon to push the confidence level up and see them rise to half way in the league. It was a bad night at the office for the shakers despite scoring 3 goals, but not the end of the world, they took their chances in the first half which was good, but plenty to work on in training this week, particularly at the back and to re-energise central midfield. Matches are coming thick and fast now with Leicester in the League Cup a week tonight.

Ian Crowther – 18th August 2015.