LFA Cup Shakedown sees Clarets crash out

Last updated : 27 January 2007 By Andy Ashworth
Tom Blackler - in the side after a long injury layoff
We had what I'd consider to be a strong line up, although 2nd year apprentices Ali Akbar, Connor Smith and Dale Underwood were on the touchline. It was certainly a pleasant surprise to see Tom Blackler in the starting line-up alongside Jack Overson after a long injury layoff. However, reading up on our opponents I had seen that Bury have a number of players who have recently been scouted by the England U-18 setup so I was a little cautious going into the fixture.

We started brightly with two Jay Rodriguez attempts coming in the opening three minutes, though both opportunities missed the target. Unfortunately, this proved to be a little bit of a false dawn as we retreated into our shells and spent the remainder of the game chasing shadows.

Bury had two lads up front who complimented each other excellently and within 20 minutes both had scored. The number nine capitalised on a slip by Overson and slotted past Sergeant while the number 10 gambled on a through ball after more sloppy play by us and chipped the onrushing keeper.

With 30 minutes on the clock the game was dead and buried as Overson was sent off for a professional foul after being caught on the wrong side of his man. If we were going to salvage anything we needed to play the best football of our lives over the remaining hour or gain a huge slice of luck. We thought luck might be with us as another chip by the number 10 hit the post and bounced into the keeper's arms. At least one member of the massed crowd felt that this could be the turning point. It wasn't.

We finished the half with the score at 2-0 and Vince & Pash took the lads aside and explained a few things. The team talk was so detailed it overran the half time break, with Bury and the officials patiently waiting on the pitch. We restarted looking energised and seemed more positive for a couple of minutes. Then somebody was let down by their touch, then a pass went astray, and we dropped off again.

Bury pounced. They hammered us in the 2nd half. Blackler picked up a booking, as did Dean Stott, as the relentless tide of Bury pressure drove at us. They scored a penalty following a foul by Stott (who could be grateful that the ref chose not to give him a 2nd yellow) and then added a fourth as we began to crumble.

We made changes with Akbar, Casey and Alex McDonald coming on. McDonald, as ever, was tenacious and showed some attacking intent, but never worked the keeper. The visitors then wrapped it up with two more goals, the 2nd of which worthy of applause from both sets of supporters as, again, the number 10 found the back of the net from 35+ yards as Sergeant fluffed a clearance and he remained calm whilst being closed down, chipping home.

We will no doubt be disappointed to fall at the first hurdle in a competition that we won last year. It was definitely a lacklustre performance. Wednesday's game cannot come soon enough.

Team :- Jon Sergeant, Dean Stott, Thomas Bradley, Tom Blackler (Paul Casey), Jack Overson, Ash Young, Alex-Ray Harvey (Ali Akbar), Adam Kay, Chris Anderson, Rob Turner (Alex McDonald), Jay Rodriguez. Subs not used :- Lewis Craig, Connor Smith.