THERE isn't likely to be any festive goodwill on offer when the Shakers entertain crisis club Stockport County at Gigg Lane on Saturday at 3pm.

The Hatters are currently bottom of Coca Cola League Two after a dismal first half of the campaign that cost manager Chris Turner and his assistant Colin West their jobs this week.

And there's nothing Chris Casper's men would like better than to end the year with a thumping win, albeit against beleagured north west neighbours.

Both Turner and West agreed to leave the club by mutual consent on Tuesday morning as the situation came to a head following a 6-0 drubbing by Cheshire neighbours Macclesfield on Boxing Day, a fifth successive defeat.

Popular former player Jim Gannon flew in from his native Ireland to step into the breach as caretaker manager and, aided by former Shakers legend Craig Madden who is youth team coach, he was due to select the side that faced fellow strugglers Torquay United in a crucial game at Edgley Park last night.

Turner was in the County hotseat for just over a year and although he managed to cut the wage bill and overhaul the squad, predictably results suffered accordingly.

Of the 51 games he oversaw only seven were won, culminating in relegation from League One last season and this campaign's miserable start.

In recent weeks, the Shakers have proved what a change of personnel at the top can do for a club's fortunes.

Since the appointment of Chris Casper the team's results have noticeably picked up and another three points on Saturday would further foster hopes of a second half of the season run towards the promotion play-off places.

Bury were due to play local rivals Rochdale in a long-awaited derby clash at Spotland last night - freezing conditions permitting - and a good result there would have been the perfect antidote to Boxing Day's disappointing home defeat by Grimsby Town.

Captain Dave Challinor is one of four former Stockport players at Gigg Lane who will be keen to get one over on his old teammates. Goalkeeper Neil Edwards, defender Colin Woodthorpe and striker Stuart Barlow are the others.

The skipper is determined that he and his defensive teammates won't be as profligate as they were on Boxing Day when a goal in each half cancelled out Danny Reet's 13th minute opener.

"We were all very disappointed after that result," he said.

"They probably deserved their first half equaliser but in the second period it was mostly one-way traffic in our favour.

"With the amount of pressure and possession we had we ought to have done more.

"They were two bad goals to concede and we knew they were going to be a threat from set pieces.

"We haven't got the biggest team and they had some big lads, but even so it was disappointing, a draw would have been a fairer result.

"Against Notts County a few weeks ago we let ourselves down on corners and it's something, as individuals, we need to keep on top of.

"It's important we bounce back after that defeat, three points can move you a long way in this league."

A victory over Stockport is long overdue for the Gigg Lane men who have to go back 13 games to November 1983 for their last win when John Bramhall and Paul Hilton scored in a 2-1 triumph at Gigg.

In between time there have been six draws and six losses in the league, FA Cup, Football League Cup and LDV Vans Trophy.

But with County in their current predicament it could be the perfect time to smash that hoodoo once and for all.

"After they were relegated last season you'd have fancied them to do well this time but they've picked up a habit of losing games," added Challinor who joined Stockport in a £120,000 deal from Tranmere Rovers three years ago.

"They seem to have been on a downward spiral since Sale Sharks Rugby Union Club moved in with them.

"But we won't be resting on our laurels, every game in this division is difficult as teams are inconsistent.

"We know we'll have to be on our mettle to win and we'll be going for it."

Casper will wait until the outcome of last night's Rochdale game before assessing his squad for Saturday.

Brian Barry-Murphy is unlikely to be fit after picking up a horrendous head gash in training late last week but striker Jake Speight (ankle), defender Tom Kennedy (hamstring) could be added to the Boxing Day squad.

"Football is all about momentum and winning, like losing, is a habit," said Shakers assistant manager Ian Miller.

"We'll take one game at a time but if the players apply themselves as they have done in recent weeks there is nothing to fear.

"I've been very impressed with the work ethic at the club and you have to work hard to earn the right to play.

"This four games in eight days is a big ask and we're going to need every player fit over the holiday period."