By Gerry Prewett.
Having played away games against two teams above them in the table, Bristol Rovers to take all three points from their Good Friday game against Bury.
Bury started their season full of optimism under the Managership of Lee Clark, who brought in 18 new players and were looking for a promotion spot. On paper it all looked realistic. Fortune was not to favour Clark, as his team suffered a horrendous run of injuries and a poor run of results, from which they have found it difficult to recover. They come to the Mem with just 30 points from 38 games and are effectively 11 points from safety (so bad is their goal difference).
Last weekend the Shakers went down to local rivals Wigan. The hosts had the better of the opening stages as defender Nathan Cameron glanced Jay O'Shea's in swinging corner wide. Stephen Dawson then side-footed over before O'Shea blasted a 20-yard free-kick over the bar.
On 26 minutes the Latics took the lead against the run of play as Ryan Colclough found Michael Jacobs in the inside-left channel and his cut-back was swept in by Nick Powell.
Jacobs then had an effort cleared off the line while at the other end Neil Danns powerful shot forced a fine save from Wigan keeper Christian Walton.
Max Power and Jay Fulton went close for the Latics and, five minutes after half-time, Dunkley rose highest at the back post to head home from Power's corner.
O'Shea then tested Walton before Ryan Cooney and Danny Mayor fired over as Bury suffered their third straight defeat.
Bury Boss Ryan Lowe said after the game, “It’s another tough result for us, because I thought we were the better side at times. To be honest, though, I’m getting a bit sick of being the better side in games and coming away with no points. The effort and the commitment was there, but clearly the quality is what’s lacking at the moment.”
“We weren’t helped by coming up against Wigan. They are a really strong side and will probably go on and secure promotion. But I can’t hide my emotions."
“We’re just not taking the points we need and that’s a major problem.
“We need to find that winning formula again somehow, and until we do, I’ll not be frightened to make changes. I feel like I need to see a bit more desire from the players, throughout the team. Some of them have been scarred by what’s gone on so far this season, and this is no disrespect to them, but there needs to be more desire out there.”
“I know I keep harping on about it, but we need to be better in both boxes. That’s crucial. It’s my job to keep them smiling and keep them positive.”
Rovers record against Bury is remarkably even with 18 victories, 12 draws and 18 defeats. The very first meeting between the clubs took place on 7th September 1953 in a 2nd Division game at Eastville. Goals by George Petherbridge and Eric Massey (own goal) sent a 29,002 Eastville crowd home happy. The return match at Gigg Lane just nine days later saw the Shakers run out 3-1 winners with Wally Kelly (2) and Ken Plant scoring for the home team and Geoff Bradford for Rovers.
Whilst Rovers have a pretty good home record against the Shakers the away results are woeful. During Rovers' first 7 visits to Bury they came away with 1 win and 6 defeats. At Eastville the results were exactly reversed, as Rovers won 6 and lost 1 against their visitors from Lancashire.
Season 1956-57 really showed remarkable results by the two teams. This was during the days when teams played against one another on Christmas Day and the return fixture on Boxing Day. The Christmas Day Fixture was at Gigg Lane and the Shakers ran out 7-2 victors. Whether they over-celebrated their victory or not the Pirates gained their revenge with a 6-1 win the following day. How can a team get 10 goals better or worse in one day?
Amongst the memorable games between the two clubs was one at Eastville on 18th October 1969. Rovers had got off to a good start to the season and were shocked when George Kerr scored for the away team after only 4 minutes. After 16 minutes Ray Graydon changed wings with Harold Jarman and scored with a fierce drive. Bury were looking very strong on the break.
In the second half Graydon again fired in a fierce shot and Lyons in the Shakers goal was beaten just inside his near post to give Rovers a 2-1 victory. Rovers finished the season in 3rd spot (missing out on promotion) and Bury in 19th position.
On 15 November 2003 Rovers fought hard to gain a lead through Lewes Haldene only to throw away an equaliser in the 70th minute to Dan Swailes. In the push for all three points they lost to a last minute Joe O’Neil stunner. As so often that season Rovers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory! In the 2005-06 season both teams won the respective home games 1-0, Paul Scott scoring at Gigg Land and Junior Agogo at the Mem. In the 2006-07 season, in Rovers promotion run time the teams met Rovers won both games 2-0, Lewis Haldane and Richard Walker scoring in the away game and a Ricky Lambert double in the home tie.
On 16 November 2013 Rovers made a dream start, after just three minutes, Eliot Richards made a great run down the left, and was brought down by Shaun Beeley to win a penalty. John-Joe O’Toole then stepped up and coolly slotted the ball into the top left hand corner.
Ten minutes before half-time a ball in from Shaun Beeley, was headed across goal; Rovers fail to clear and Danny Hylton bundled the ball in from close range. Rovers dominated the second half, they were unable to make their pressure count and score the winner.
Bury’s last visit to the Mem was on 10 December 2016 and an eventful game it turned out to be. Scott Burgess gave the away team a 25th minute lead but Rory Gaffney on 32 minutes and Matty Taylor right on half-time sent the Gas in with a 2-1 lead. On 67 minutes Ollie Clarke extended the lead before George Miller put the Shalers back on the game in the 75th minute with his team’s second goal.
Darrell Clark made a double substitution straight afterwards with Luke James coming on for Matty Taylor and Danny Leadbitter for Charlie Colkett. The move paid off as Peter Hartley pooped up with Rovers 4th goal on 82 minutes. Then with time running out Nil Danns received a straight red card and extended Bury’s losing run to 11 straight games, their worst ever.
Looking at the remainder of the season, Manager Lowe admits, “The lads are feeling a bit of pressure because they’re down at the bottom. I’m trying to take that pressure away from them, I’ll take all the pressure. I’m happy to take the flak because I’m big enough and man enough.
“But sometimes decision-making on the pitch may not be right because they’re feeling that pressure. They take a chance or take an extra touch but sometimes the thing to do is play what you see.”
“The way I’ll set my team up is to play football but I’d take playing rubbish and winning 1-0. When you’re at the bottom no luck goes for you and you are probably tensing up in certain situations because of the pressure. When you concede the first goal, your head goes down, but we’ll continue to play football. You’ll always see that under me.”
“I’ve said to the boys ‘there are eight big games to go and anything can still happen. I know we’re ticking the games off slowly but, while we’ve still got a chance, we’ll keep trying to do the right things.”