BURY will look to put an end to their miserable derby record as they host ROCHDALE in League One tonight.
A Danny Rose header gave the Shakers a 1-0 win at Spotland in the FA Cup last season but otherwise Bury’s last league win over Dale was way back in February 2010. Including the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie at Spotland in 2012/13, which the Shakers won on penalties after a 1-1 draw, Bury have only won one of their last 9 meetings with Dale – with Keith Hill’s men winning the last two 3-0 and 2-0.
But it’s not just bragging rights at stake at Gigg Lane, for both sides have plenty more riding on tonight’s game. Rochdale’s bid to snatch a play-off berth was dealt a blow last Saturday as they lost 1-0 away to Bury’s relegation rivals Shrewsbury. But victory tonight would put Dale back within 3 points of the top 6, before everyone else plays on Good Friday.
As for Bury, new manager Lee Clark (above) had lifted them clear of the drop zone but a run of 2 points from a possible 12 has seen them sink back into the relegation mire. The Shakers are just a point above the bottom 4 so Clark is hoping last Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat by Bradford will act as a wake-up call.
“We’ve got to get back our belief and our way of playing football,” he said. “We’ve been going from back to front too quickly and we’re not set up to do that, with the personnel we have.
“We missed a few chances but we’ve got to find a way together, we’ve got to find a solution to get back to winning ways. We’ve got a huge derby match here on Thursday, which is vital for lots of different reasons, for being a derby game and for where we are in the division.”
Rochdale host rock-bottom Coventry on Easter Monday while Bury have another big derby game over Easter weekend as they make the short trip to promotion-chasing BOLTON on Tuesday night (8pm kick-off). The Shakers’ recent record against Wanderers is better than against Dale but the hosts are looking to secure automatic promotion after coming down from the Championship last term.
A 9-match unbeaten run propelled Bolton back into the top two while the likes of Fleetwood and Scunthorpe faltered. That run ended with a 1-0 defeat at Scunthorpe last Saturday but with just 4 games left, 2nd-placed Wanderers have a 7-point cushion.
Before hosting Bury, they too have a derby clash, away against OLDHAM on Saturday (12.30pm kick-off), and that match will also have ramifications at each end of the table.
Lee Erwin’s 5th goal in 7 games sealed a 2-0 win for Oldham against Fleetwood last Saturday and sent Latics above Bury to 17th, 3 points above the drop zone.
John Sheridan’s return as manager in January has transformed the team’s fortunes, they’ve lost just 2 of their last 12. Latics then visit Bristol Rovers on Monday and if they win both their Easter fixtures their survival could be secured with 2 games to spare.
However, it will be mission accomplished for Bolton if they win both their games so Sheridan knows there is plenty to play for at the SportsDirect.com Park too.
“When I came in they were playing with a bit of fear and they were on edge, but you can see a massive difference with the players now,” said the former Latics and Bolton midfielder, who helped Wanderers win promotion to the Premier League in 1997.
“They’re going out believeing they’re got a really good chance of winning games, no matter who we’re playing. Wer’re taking that into games and there’s no bigger test than Saturday against Bolton.
“When I look at them and (already-promoted leaders) Sheffield United, the squads they’ve got are really strong. Deep down I want Bolton to get promoted. It’s an ex club of mine, I loved it when I was there. I was there 2 years and we won the Championship.
“After Saturday’s game I hope they get promoted, but 100%, I want us to beat them on Saturday. It’ll be a tough game but they’ll know we’re a hard team to play against and hopefully we can continue. We’ve played teams in and around the top and we’ve competed really well in those games so hopefully we’ll do that again on Saturday.”
WIGAN could switch places with Bolton and come back down to League One after just one season back in the Championship. A last-gasp free-kick by Nick Powell gave 2nd-bottom Latics a 3-2 win over already-relegated Rotherham last Saturday and ended a 4-match losing streak.
But it may have merely earned Wigan a stay of execution as they are 7 points from safety with 5 games left. They host mid-table Barnsley tonight before visiting Brighton on Easter Monday, when the league leaders could have the chance to clinch promotion to the Premier League.