Bury recovery ahead of schedule as Mansfield Town visit
Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft heads back to his old stomping ground at Bury on Saturday where the Shakers are starting to rise again after relegation last season.
Flitcroft took Bury up in 2014/15, but their three-year stay ended with relegation back to League Two last season.
However, after Tuesday’s 0-0 draw at Northampton Town, they have won four, drawn one and lost one of their last six games and sit ninth, two points above the 14th-placed Stags, having played one game more.
READ DAVID FLITCROFT’S THOUGHTS ON HIS EMOTIONAL RETURN TO GIGG LANEAfter a dismal 18 months most Bury fans would have settled for mid-table this term and a season of consolidation.
However, the club made a host of positive summer signings, which had many people within the club talking about promotion.
Given boss Ryan Lowe rebuilt the squad in the summer, just being in contention for a play-off place would have been a realistic expectation.
During Lowe’s first spell as caretaker manager last season it appeared it was too soon for him to become full-time boss.
But by the time he was put back in charge in January, the damage had already been done and only the most ambitious fan would have expected him to lead Bury to safety.
There was little pressure on Lowe during the last four months of the season so it proved a useful learning curve and the board then gave him the job full-time in the summer, as well as backing him in the transfer market.
Lowe has had the chance to build his own squad and instil his own ideas, and it’s taken a bit of time off, but it now appears to be paying off.
The players are starting to gel and most Bury fans are happy with how things are developing this season.
Striker Jermaine Beckford is back from a lengthy lay-off with a knee injury. He came on against Carlisle but stayed on the bench at Colchester so could be ready to start on Saturday.
Lowe is having to manage winger Danny Mayor’s game-time but with on-loan striker Caolan Lavery getting injured, Lowe brought in striker Nicky Maynard last week.
Centre half Eoghan O’Connell returned at Colchester but went off at half-time so is doubtful again.
Bury have used three centre halves for much of the season - O’Connell, Will Aimson and Adam Thompson - and Thompson has been the most consistent at the back.
But overall, local lad Nicky Adams has been the most impressive of the Bury players since returning in the summer for a third spell with the club.
The midfielder’s delivery from wide areas is proving a big threat for Bury.
Also a threat is attacking midfielder Byron Moore, who has struggled for goals in recent years, scoring just eight since leaving Crewe in 2014.
The summer signing wasn’t given his first league start until 15th September, when he was asked to play up front at Swindon, and he scored twice that day before adding another at Colchester to make it three in three games.