HANDS up if you missed the fact there were some Checkatrade Trophy games last week. Hands up if you even care.
Until you reach the Area final, one step from playing at Wembley, then the lower-league Cup competition just doesn’t matter. Not even if you’re playing your closest rivals.
But when you’ve just slipped into the relegation zone and are desperate for a win, it matters. And when, instead of earning a morale-boosting win, your derby rivals romp to their biggest win over you in decades, then it really does matter.
That fate befell BURY as fellow League One outfit ROCHDALE thumped them 4-0 in the Checkatrade Trophy, extending the Shakers’ wretched recent derby record.
Most teams field weakened sides in the much-maligned competition and Bury manager Lee Clark (above) changed the entire starting line-up to that which featured in the previous Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Plymouth. However, he didn’t just send out the kids, Clark had plenty of able replacements in reserve given the number of players he brought in over the summer.
But Dale went 3-0 up inside 34 minutes – and 4-0 after 51 – so a game which offered the chance to relieve the pressure on Clark only heaped more onto the Bury boss.
Indeed, in The Sun’s EFL pull-out last Friday, they picked Clark as the ‘Manager Who Needs A Result’. Turns out they should have picked OLDHAM’s John Sheridan.
Bury didn’t win last Saturday, they drew 1-1 at Charlton, but the manner of their performance offered plenty of encouragement. Oldham, meanwhile, were thrashed 5-1 at Rotherham and, come Monday morning, Sheridan was sacked.
The Latics made a dismal start to the season, losing their first 5 games, but their displays merited more points than they’d got. It looked as though they’d turned the corner when a 2-2 draw at Fleetwood was followed up by a 3-2 win at Bristol Rovers. But defeats by Shrewsbury and Rotherham meant Oldham were still stuck in the drop zone, compelling the board to end Sheridan’s third srint as Latics boss.
With a new owner set to take over at Boundary Park, it was felt that a new manager would help make it a fresh start for the club. Caretaker boss Richie Wellens oversaw a 3-2 home win against Peterborough on Tuesday night while things are also looking up for Bury, who on the same night beat Oxford 3-0 for their first win since the opening day.
The midweek victories lifted Bury out of the bottom 4 and Oldham off the bottom so both sides will be in high spirits as they prepare to host MK Dons and visit Portsmouth, respectively.
The Checkatrade Trophy will no doubt prove another unwelcome distraction on Tuesday night, with the Shakers away to Blackburn while Latics are at Crewe. But, after that, the two sides have been handed some extra down-time. They were due to face each other at Oldham on Saturday, October 7, but the game has been rearranged due to international call-ups.
The League One derby clash will now take place on Tuesday, October 24, by which time Latics hope to have a new owner and new manager installed. Bury, meanwhile, hope to be looking down on them from mid-table, provided the Checkatrade Trophy doesn’t threaten to throw another spanner in the works.