Match Day: Doncaster Rovers vs. Bury FC
Match Day: Doncaster Rovers vs. Bury FC - Keepmoat Stadium, Saturday 8th August 2015 - 3pm
First match of the new season was upon us, Doncaster Rovers away at the Keepmoat Stadium. Banter in the car on the way over to Yorkshire was lively. There was some uncertainty about what Bury may face in terms of opposition both at Doncaster and for the season ahead.
Concerns were soon dispelled as Bury held up their end of the tie extremely well in competing with a team that is favoured for a top 6 finish in League 1. In summary, the match was great value for a 1-1 draw, very entertaining and some excellent offensive play. However, the game finished without the gloss of several goals, which would not have been out of place in this tie.
The first 15 minutes saw Donny's midfield breaking through twice with winding runs from Coppinger and Chaplow. However, as the ball came forward from midfield, Wellens and Forester had got into great positions but made comedic errors and failed to supply a finish.
Bury appeared a little hesitant to begin with. However, Bury's play sharpened through phase two of the attack. Passes out to Danny Mayor enabled him to drive forward and supply two forward passes into the penalty box. The first came across for a flying header from Tom Pope going just wide, and the other just missing Stuckmann's left hand post from Leon Clarke.
One or two long passes across the back of midfield went array, as Etuhu looked to escape Donny pressing in Bury's half. However, Etuhu settled shortly thereafter into a solid game, breaking up play. Pugh, the other partner in the midfield pairing, never really got to grips with the game in the first half. Pugh struggled for the most part but progressed slowly.
Bury fans were appealing to the referee for clear fouls on striker Pope as the ball came forward looking for the front man. In the first half hour, there were six occasions when Donny's central defender Jones had his arms over Pope's shoulders, or was seeking to gain unfair advantage. However, this is the skill of a professional defender and back line, and Jones masked his challenges well from the referee. Whilst Pope was keeping the central defenders busy, this left some space for Clarke to try and make his mark.
Riley made several overlapping runs down the right hand side, however Tom Soares fought hard for the ball at 20 minutes and found Leon Clarke with a clever cross on the edge of the box. As the goalkeeper Stuckmann was moving to his right hand side anticipating a shot, Leon Clarke sent the ball on target the other way, but somehow the keeper made a grab for the ball with a terrific reflex save.
The first half could be summed up as two attacking teams attempting to make the break through, but for Bury, the lack of a finishing touch was key having created several good chances. That said, Bury tipped the scales in their favour and were the best team in the first half, both as aggressors and taking the match to Doncaster away from home.
The second half continued in the same vain, some great runs from Mayor down the left hand side, continually linking up with Clarke. However, Mayor must look to begin shooting when around the box. There were two occasions when Mayor was in a better position to shoot rather than pass, but opted for the latter which came to nothing. However, the same partnership continued working well, and with a great pass through to Clarke at 48 minutes, a right foot shot from the left hand side of Donny's penalty box crashed against the bar with Stuckmann well beaten.
At 55 minutes, Flitcroft made two substitutions, Jacob Mellis on for Pope and Andrew Tutte on for Pugh. Bury began to play through a different formation which caused Donny problems. It appeared Mellis was sat behind Clarke linking up the midfield play through Tutte. This connection resulted in Mellis taking a shot from the edge of the box at 62 minutes which deflected of a defender and the inside of the post, rebounded of Stuckmann and was eventually cleared.
Donny began to ramp up the pressure with 15 minutes to go. A disallowed Williams goal for offside followed by two substitutions at 82 minutes, (Williams for Marosi and Chaplow for Middleton), drove Donny on to creating two penalty shouts, and left the home fans thinking they were a tad unlucky whilst baying down at the referee.
The first penalty shout was a late shoulder charge from Peter Clarke running back into the box to catch Marosi, and the second a challenge on the left hand side of the Bury box when Coppinger appeared to be tripped by Nathan Cameron, it looked like there may have been contact, but he made a meal of it. The referee was well placed for both incidents, and was having none of Donny's claims, and the game continued.
Bury attacked again through Hussey and Mayor down the left only to see the ball volleyed by Clarke against Stuckmann's nearside post. Bury thwarted yet again as the 90 minutes were up, and 3 minutes of added time were announced.
Added time saw the Keepmoat witness an extraordinary event, which most will never have seen previously or are likely to again. One of Donny's players had gone down injured and Bury kicked the ball into touch just past the home teams dugout. As play resumed, a Donny throw came in which was somehow shank-volleyed by Forrester, back towards the Bury keeper Walton, but went straight over his head and into the net - a somewhat fortuitous goal at 92 minutes. Donny had taken the lead, 1 nil. What came next was remarkable.
Clearly, the goal was problematic. The referee was unsure as to what action he should take. The referee consulted both managers. Flitcroft confirmed that Dickov asked the referee to call a foul throw and reset play. From the post match analysis on Shakers Player, Dickov and Flitcroft were never in doubt that "ethics and morals of the game should be upheld" and Bury given a chance to respond. The players jostled after the Donny goal, and after handbags at ten paces, the managers agreed with the referee that a Bury walk-in goal was appropriate.
Clarke opened his scoring account for Bury with the most bizarre (walk-in) goal he will ever score to make it 1-1 at 94 minutes! Interestingly, what would the managers have decided upon if Bury had been leading 1-0 at 92 minutes - would Dickov have allowed Bury to regain the lead afterwards? Nonetheless, this was great sportsmanship from both teams, which kept the game within the boundaries of what was just. The final whistle blew shortly thereafter.
Although the finishing touch was missing at the Keepmoat, Bury gave a great account of themselves with many positives coming from the game, including a great defensive display from the backline. The Bury Manager Flitcroft appeared happy with the Bury performance, saying "it's a sighter, and shows how far we have come". Bury were also unfortunate with the woodwork assisting Donny 3 times in the second half. There was no doubt that a terrific performance from Stuckmann kept Donny in the game.
It will be interesting to see if Flitcroft rearranges midfield versus Wigan on Tuesday night in the League Cup, and whether Tutte gets the nod and a starting position over Pugh? The team looked more cohesive through Tutte's industrious nature and driving force. Moreover, with additional minutes under the proverbial belt, the restructured forward line will gel further.
The fans can see promise in the new line up. Although the season is in its infancy, Saturday's match reinforces the fans belief that a challenge on League 1 is well within Bury's grasp. Bury are providing good value for money right now and deserve to see their support increase further. UTS!
Ian Crowther - 9th August 2015.