Oldham, who also secured their league one status at the weekend with a 1–1 draw at home to Preston, will be desperate to settle the score with their Lancashire rivals after Bury’s impressive 2 – 0 victory at Boundary Park earlier this season.
Andy Bishop scored both goals that day but is unlikely to start, with Richie Barker expected to make just one change from the starting 11 that earned Bury their first F & C Thames River Performance of The Week Award last Saturday. The five man panel comprising of Sir Alex Ferguson, Joe Royle, Barry Fry, Dave Bassett and LMA Chairman Howard Wilkinson agreed that the 4 -2 demolition of Notts County was deserving of the award, an opinion not lost on Shakers boss Barker who was full of praise for his players after the game: ‘To come away to a team that’s in the Playoffs and win 4 – 2 is excellent. If we’d have started this run two or three weeks earlier, we might be looking up instead of down’.
On the contrary Latics manager Paul Dickov felt his team were lacking in quality during in their draw with Preston: It wasn’t the best game for people to watch, we got the point that we needed which was important, but I’d have liked to have done it with a bit more quality on the pitch’.
Quality on the pitch is something that Bury have in abundance with ex Leeds striker Mike Grella scoring four goals in his last three games, Winger David Worrall being watched by a whole host of Championship clubs and on-loan midfielder Giles Coke firing on all cylinders. Having said that Bury haven’t managed a home win in a league game with Oldham since their 3 -1 victory on the 5th of September 1967, a record Shakers fans everywhere will be hoping is brought to an end come the final whistle on Saturday.
Team news: With safety assured and one eye on next season Oldham may well look to field a mixture of first team regulars and fringe players in the tie, giving Bury a real chance of breaking the 45 year old curse, although they’ll have to do it without Andrai Jones. His sending off for a second bookable offence against Notts County means he’ll more than likely be replaced by out of favour Phil Picken at right back.
STATS: Of the 40 games played by the two sides Bury have won 14 times, there have been 14 draws and, even though they have scored 3 more goals than their opponents, Oldham have been victorious just 12 times.
Bury 12TH: 55 points
Last six: D W L W W W
Key Player: Mike Grella
Grella’s inclusion in the starting 11 has seen a marked improvement in the Lancashire clubs fortunes. A natural replacement for departed striker Ryan Lowe, his goals have fired the club from relegation candidates to mid table safety in just under a month. Expect him to get his name on the score-sheet yet again.
Oldham 18th: 50 points
Last six: L L L L D D
Key Player: Dean Furman.
The Latics’ Captain and all round leader has recently signed a contract extension that will keep him at Boundary Park for another year. Furman will give his all for the team and never lets his head drop. If he’s allowed space in midfield he’ll be looking to run the show.
Looking at the stats, the likely line-ups and recent form, it’s difficult to pick a winner. Bury are playing neat passing football and getting results, but a stubborn Oldham side fired up by local rivalry and playing in front of a bumper crowd could turn the form book on its head.
Score: 2 -2