Bury 0 Mansfield 'Hartlepool' Town 0
by The Boy Holty
Despite a much improved attacking performance (and a 4-4-2 formation - hooray!), Bury were thwarted by the most negative opposition performance I've witnessed in years. In the second half, Mansfield wasted time like I've never seen before, with players rolling about on the floor, changing their minds who was taking throw-ins and free kicks, and doing it subtlely so the ref couldn't book anyone. They might as well have left their strikers at home as they made little effort to score and clearly set out for a draw, when they won a throw-in by the corner flag in the 89th minute, they didn't even send anyone forward into our box to try and get the winner.
Anyway, on to the Shakers. The starting formation was generally unchanged except for the two up front - Harrad who had one snapshot smartly saved but did little else, and Hylton who looked lively and showed a fantastic first touch. In midfield it was the same old story with Soares out of position and hopelessly out of touch on the left wing and Miller who was just hopless in central midfield. The first of two game changing events occurred towards the end of the first half when Miller picked up what looked like a shoulder injury and didn't come out for the second half, being replaced by Danny Mayor who quickly became Bury's most dangerous player on the left wing with Tom Soares moving into central midfield. Now I don't wish to go on about this but I have been saying since day one that Soares should play central midfield with Mayor on the left and boy was I proved right. Soares was a different player in the middle and Mayor gave their right-back hell in the second half, especially after the second game-changing event, which was the sending off of Mansfield's John Dempster for a two footed challenge on Harrad.
After this we totally dominated the game but as has become a recurring theme, we didn't have a player capable of sticking it in the back of the net. The bloke behind me commented quite rightly that games like this one show why players like Ryan Lowe are so utterly priceless as he would have won the game for Bury last night - no question.
There was quite a lot of booing on the final whistle but it was all aimed at mansfield for their tactics, and I hope Jepson doesn't think it was for his team's performance.
As for Jepson's role as caretaker manager what can I say? It was certainly the best performance I have seen for a while and the players looked like they wanted to play for him and for each other. They had a pre-match huddle, the likes of which I haven't seen since the Barker/Lowe promotion campaign. His tactics were wrong to start with but the changes he made at half time were the right ones to make. I hope that his starting line-up at Wycombe on Saturday is the same on that started the second half against Mansfield - if it is then he might just be the man for the job, at least in the short term, although with some fairly big names in the running, I doubt he'll get much of a chance.
The award for most comical fuck-up of the evening goes to Gigg Lane's announcer who, towards the end of the game, put out a tannoy message to "the Hartlepool Town supporters". Knob.