VERDICT: Bury 0 Morecambe 2
IT is too early to tell what the final straw was behind the scenes at Gigg Lane that prompted Monday’s sacking of manager Kevin Blackwell.
The “Blackwell out” chants that drowned out the final whistle following Saturday’s defeat at home to Morecambe cannot have helped.
Neither could the club’s second loss in front of the home fans this season, which extended the Shakers’ winless streak to seven matches and left them two places and one point above the Football League trapdoor.
But when Kevin Blackwell left his assistant manager Ronnie Jepson to face the media, his chilling warning that the new owners would have to spend their way out of trouble must have left their jaws on the floor.
After sanctioning the signing of 26 players during the summer – admittedly without spending a penny in transfer fees, shipping out all but two of last season’s relegated squad and leaving remaining striker Shaun Harrad out in the cold, the call for chairman Stewart Day to dig into his pockets further must have come as a shock.
Jepson said Blackwell knew full-well what changes needed to be made – highlighting the lack of an experienced striker as the fatal flaw in the club’s hectic transfer dealings.
“We know what’s lacking – we need a proper target man,” said Jepson, after watching his players fail to score for the second successive match.
“We must have made about 50 or 60 phone calls and we’re not getting them.
“It would be rude to the other clubs to name names, but we’ve targeted that many players and we can’t get them.
“The only other route might be, come January, where we identify a player and we have to go and pay for one.”
That public call for support clearly did not garner the response Blackwell was looking for.
It is now evident the board of directors were not willing to let the club drift until January with their Football League status in jeopardy.
But it would have been hard to argue with Blackwell’s reading of the situation after Bury yet again dominated possession on Saturday without finishing their chances.
With Harrad unavailable due to personal problems, according to Jepson, and Ashley Grimes, Jessy Reindorf and Tope Obadeyi out injured, Blackwell once again started with 19-year-old Blackburn loanee Anton Forrester as the lone front man in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Jordan Sinnott was asked to support Forrester in an attacking midfield role, while Tom Soares and the returning Craig Jones were given licence to roam from the flanks.
Bury looked to have plenty of options going forward in a first half they bossed.
Morecambe keeper Barry Roche had to get down sharply to push Soares’s deflected shot on to his near post in the eighth minute, while Forrester was unlucky to poke Soares’s follow-up cross just wide.
Bury keeper Brian Jensen was called into action to block a breakaway shot from Padraig Amond in the 17th minute, but the home side remained in the ascendancy for the remainder of the half.
Decent chances fell to Forrester, who put a cheeky back-heel just wide, while captain Andy Procter should have done better with a free header from six yards that Roche tipped over.
Roche was again on hand to stop a thunderous strike from left-back Jordan Mustoe just before the break, while the keeper did well to parry a Soares shot and turn behind a Tommy Miller effort early in the second half.
Bury’s wings were clipped following the removal of Jones with a groin strain at half time, but when Jensen was unable to reach a superb 30-yard free kick from Ryan Williams on 62 minutes, the remainder of their confidence and attacking threat drained away.
And the Shakers’ misery was complete when substitute Tony Diagne drilled a low shot past Jensen in the 94th minute, moments after coming on.
Jepson, who has been given responsibility to manage Bury for at least the next game, was asked after his post-match comments whether the management team would be given until January to turn things around.
We now know the answer, but it seems clear, whoever takes charge after Portsmouth on Saturday, the foundations of a decent side are there. It may just take a fresh approach and a seasoned striker to turn results around.
Bury: Jensen 6; Beeley 7, Cameron 5, Edjenguele 6, Mustoe 7; Procter 6, Miller 7 (Rooney 85); Jones 7 (Sedgwick 6 46), Sinnott 6 (Jackson 6 65), Soares 7; Forrester 6. Not used: Hinds, Holden, Mayor, Charles-Cook.
Morecambe: Roche, Wright, Hughes, Parrish, Threlfall; Fleming, Drummond, Williams (Arestidou 77); Amond, Sampson (Kenyon 68), Ellison (Diagne 90+2). Not used: Bell, McGee, Mwasile, Doyle. Goals: Bury 0 Morecambe 2 (Williams 62, Diagne 90+4).
Yellow cards: Bury – Cameron 44 Sedgwick 48. Morecambe – Hughes 44.
Referee: Stuart Attwell. Attendance: 3,082 (336 visiting).
Star man: Craig Jones – The winger came back with all guns blazing after being dropped for the previous match. His performance was described as “unplayable” by Ronnie Jepson, and while Bury were not able to capitalise on Jones’s raids down the right, it only looked like a matter of time before one of his crosses would bear fruit. A coming together with former team-mate Mark Hughes just before the break put paid to that – and with Jones went Bury’s chances of victory.
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