Bury 2 Swindon Town 2: Greater Manchester Police on lookout for two points robbed

Anthony Gingell witnessed a crime as Town came from behind to steal a point

Gigg Lane dished out a dull game for Town’s opening away day. In a surprisingly sunny Lancashire, Town’s warm-up looked lackadaisical, disjointed and summed up the start of the game. Fabien Robert (poor against Exeter) was dropped for the return of the rumoured Barnsley-bound Michael Smith in the only change to the starting XI.

A sluggish start from Town allowed Bury to take an early lead, not too unlike Bradford a week ago. A Bury throw on Town’s left was not defended so a quick return ball played to Joe Riley allowed him the freedom of the North West to deliver the perfect cross for Tom Pope to head past the despairing dive of Lawrence Vigouroux.

Shortly thereafter Town were fortunate not to be two down after Leon Clarke marauded past the Swindon defence but Man of the Match Vigouroux saved at the feet of the former Town striker. Swindon were being exposed time and time again summed up by the 13th minute effort: a freekick in a neutral area nearly turned out to be an excellent opportunity for Bury. A long, hoofed punt from the goalkeeper was won in the air by Tom Pope but luckily for Town, the front man could only nod on for a goal kick.

Things nearly went from awful to atrocious in the 18th minute when more sloppy play gifted Bury the ball with Clarke getting to the ball before Vigourox and a penalty was  given. A questionable penalty for some of the ground thinking the ball had been taken first before the man; other STFC fans said “stonewall as he got Clarke”.

Was this the wakeup call needed like we had against Bradford? Were we to get another lifeline in just the second league game of the season? Clarke, infamous for crying on the County Ground pitch in the Paolo Di Canio era, stepped up. Another ex-Town player to score against us? Lawrence Vigouroux dived the wrong way – surely this is 2-0 Bury? NO. It was struck with venom but with a thunderous ting, the ball bounced off the post. Branco was the first to react and got the ball to safety.

More and more chances fell to Bury until Town’s only real chance of the first half on 29 minutes when Jon Obika wins the ball, moves it past two defenders at pace but when getting by the third and taking aim, the blocks were made by the recovering defenders. At least it was going to be on target!

The words poor, dross and awful are all being used around me in the away end and to be fair is quite accurate. That’s not for the referee who showed the oddest yellow card for some time. The Bury player took the free kick early and got booked to some surprised northern supporters.

Vigouroux saved a header from Pope again; although straight at the ‘keeper, the Swindon defence looks fragile and vulnerable. BOO (Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill) was not in the correct position which led to the Bury right back having time and space to pick out Tom Pope just like they did for the goal.

Branco, for all the criticism he receives, was heroic when defending just before the break. The ball was played out at pace by Bury. Turnbull miss timed his sliding interception leaving Clarke running at goal. Thompson chasing back meant Clarke tried to set up his teammate Pope, but Branco’s determination and positioning meant he was able to clear over the bar.

So 1-0 at half time to the home team. Swindon’s tactics have been worked out and the only outlet in Nathan Byrne has been marked out of the game by ‘bullying’ the diminutive winger. Bury packing the midfield and harassing the defenders – too simple!

The second half started in much the same fashion although Thompson seems to be playing at right back and BOO now a left back meaning a 4-4-2 but still not with left midfielder on the wing! Obika was subbed in the 48th minute limping off which hopefully is not serious as we are short in that department. Robert came on to support the very quiet Smith.

“Foul” shouted by 459 Town fans and 11 players due to more Bury pushing but the referee moves his hand in the ‘get-up’ action. Crossed low into the six yard box from Bury’s right side, the ball evaded everyone except Nathan T. who stops the forward with a simple tap in. However; the ball rolls to be 20 yards out and wallop, Danny Mayor reacts quickest and curls an effort into the far corner around Vigouroux.

The Town faithful still haven’t stopped singing and the team have started to play football. This may have something to do with Bury starting to also play a tippy-tappy style and being two goals to the good.

Anton Rodgers made an appearance for Stewart in the 58th minute. Stewart did not look as promising as previous games but had a midfielder ‘in his face’ all game. That reminded me of Massimo Luongo when he first arrived at Swindon and not fully understanding the physicality of League One.

The nearly 4000 fans at Gigg Lane began clapping on 65 minutes as a tribute to Neville Neville, father of England internationals Gary and Phil and an ambassador for the Shakers. It broke up the boring game. The next notes are on 69 minutes that read corner… That’s all I could be bothered with at this point wondering why I had gone – as well as looking at a third time of writing these things and losing!

Some better football was being played by Swindon, even with the bloke next to me shouting “and it goes square”; “and it goes backwards” “make some space and move”. He wasn’t wrong but Smith received the ball high up the pitch and with some excellent footwork moved the ball on. Kasim then played a wonderful through ball that the alive Robert ran onto. He took a touch to set himself and pulled the trigger, 2-1. Robert fired his first Town goal into the far corner.

Bury started to tire a little and began fouling Town. Two free kicks in a couple of minutes put Anton Rodgers 25 yards from goal – similar to that of Leyton Orient on the final day of last season. Without the Le Tissier roll-up and shot; Rodgers curled the ball into the top right (postage stamp) corner of the goal. Out of nothing and with many thinking the ball was in with the home fans; Town were back in it.

On 89 minutes Branco charged from the back, while there was plenty of space but his shot was dragged wide. The final whistle was blown and Swindon took a point from Lancashire when surely none were available after the first hour of play.

The running at the defenders; fitness and willingness got Swindon back in the game. We rode our luck and have to thank the ‘keeper for doing his job but Town need to find a target man (especially if Smith leaves) to hold the ball up and to find another outlet to free up moves involving Byrne without him being marked out of the game. The defence looks shaky and should surely being doing drills as a team so they know where each other will be. Although early doors, I still think we need a replacement for BOO as I’m sure he will be getting booed soon enough if performances stay like that. On a positive note – it’s a point away from home and we move onto the home game against Port Vale on Tuesday! Come on you reds…

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