Written on March 10, 2017
OLDHAM and BURY were hoping the appointment of John Sheridan and Lee Clark would result in an immediate turnaround in results and boy have they delivered.
Since Sheridan returned for a third spell as Latics boss in January, Oldham have won 6 of their 12 games to climb out of the League One relegation. Bury, meanwhile, won their first 3 games under Clark to also exit the bottom 4, before being unfortunate to lose 2-1 at home to Gillingham last Saturday.
Latics also lost last weekend, 2-0 at Walsall after losing Lee Croft to an early red card, but Sheridan felt they played well with 10 men. It took Walsall till the 79th minute to break the deadlock with a penalty and they had Brian Wilson sent off too before the hosts scored a 2nd goal at the death.
Clark was also pleased with his side’s performance in defeat, saying it was the best Bury had played in his 4 games so far. Both he and Sheridan were nominated for League One’s Manager of the Month award for February and although they missed out to Millwall’s Neil Harris, their sides’ fate is in their own hands as they head into the final 10 games of the season.
Oldham are now 3 points above the drop zone, with Bury a point better off in 19th, and the two sides can gauge just how far they’ve come as they lock horns at the SportsDirect.com Park.
“We’re both down in a vulnerable position so Bury will be thinking like us – it’s a massive game because of the simple reason we can gain an advantage on each other,” said Sheridan. “It’s a derby, with two teams who are desperate for the points so it’ll be a tough game but since I’ve come back we’ve been doing well at home so I expect us to keep doing that.”
Latics won the reverse fixture early in the season but failed to kick on from there, resulting in Stephen Robinson’s dismissal. The return of Sheridan helped bring back the feelgood factor, so too the home game with Peterborough. The club made it free entry, with over 7,000 cheering Latics on to a morale-boosting 2-0 victory, and another big gate is expected with Saturday’s game being all-ticket.
“The atmosphere against Peterborough was absolutely outstanding,” said Latics defender Anthony Gerrard, who will come up against former Everton and Huddersfield colleague James Vaughan. “There was 7,000 here and if we got anywhere near that on Saturday, then that will be fantastic. They will bring a travelling crowd which will be vocal but we know if we create a good atmosphere in here then the lads will be right up for it.”
And Clark (above) has been overjoyed by the support he and his team have had since his arrival. “I’ve been so impressed,” said the Bury boss. “It’s easy for supporters to clap when the team off and shout praise to the players and staff when they’ve won. It’s not so easy to do that when you’ve lost. A lot of fans get caught up in just the scoreline.
“The reaction of the supporters after the game last Saturday was very impressive, the encouragement and the ovation the players got. That tells me the fans understand that we might lose a game here or there, but they can accept that as long as the players are giving everything for the shirt and try to play in a positive manner. I’ve been totally impressed by the backing of the fans since I came here but that topped the lot – the reaction of the supporters in defeat, to say that we’re right behind you and we’ll continue to support you as long as you give us that level of performance. We all know that together – the supporters, myself and the players – that if that type of performance is given, we’ll win more games than we’ll lose.”
BOLTON have a little further to travel as they visit Fleetwood but they still have a derby with some added spice as the two sides are battling it for an automatic promotion spot.
Fleetwood won 2-0 at Scunthorpe last week to go 18 unbeaten in the league and climb above the Iron into 2nd place. Wanderers are 4 points behind the Cod Army in 4th after drawing 1-1 at home to AFC Wimbledon last Saturday. That was the Trotters’ 2nd straight 1-1 draw and left them 4 games without a win.
Up in the Championship, 2nd-bottom WIGAN have a huge home against 3rd-bottom Bristol City. Latics bounced back from last Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Blackburn to win 1-0 at Birmingham on Tuesday night. Bristol City are just a point better off and a Latics win could lift them out of the drop zone as they’re only 2 points from safety.