The much-anticipated Capital One cup game against Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City finally arrived after the superb performance in the previous round against Wigan.
It was an exciting occasion for the town of Bury, which was made even more memorable due to it being the first time in over 22 years that a top-flight side had visited Gigg Lane for a competitive fixture.
The cup clash was seen as a welcome respite from league duties for David Flitcroft’s men, who made one change to the side that drew 3-3 with Crewe at the weekend. Jacob Mellis came in to make his first start for the club in replace of Danny Rose. The return of Craig Jones to the bench was a welcomed sight too for the Shakers, as Reece Brown wasn’t named in the squad alongside Leon Clarke and Kelvin Etuhu.
The visitors named a completely new starting line-up to the side who had remained unchanged for their opening three Premier League fixtures, which saw them go unbeaten, climbing to second in the process. However, Ranieri’s side had plenty of international and senior experience in the form of Mark Schwarzer, Liam Moore, Leonardo Ulloa and Gokhan Inler, whilst more familiar faces were on the bench in Ritchie De Laet, Jeffrey Schlupp and Danny Simpson.
The last meeting between the two clubs was just over four years to the day. City came to Gigg Lane in the same competition, progressing to the next round with an impressive 4-2 victory.
Before the encounter Bury had some more excellent news to celebrate, with the announcement that Christian Walton was included in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man England U21 squad for their friendly next week and their opening qualifier in the Euro’s, a first for Bury Football Club.
There was also a chance for everyone to pay his or her respects to the Shoreham air disaster victims at the weekend with a minutes silence before the game.
As the game got underway there was a noticeable late change for Bury, Hallam Hope started for The Shakers, after an injury in the warm-up to Tom Soares.
Bury adopted a 4-4-1-1 formation, Jacob Mellis playing behind Tom Pope, with the visitors opting for a traditional 4-4-2 setup. The first real chance of the contest fell to Leicester’s Ulloa on the 3rdminute, his header being directed over from a corner on the right.
Ulloa had his second effort saved four minutes later, his turn and shot held onto by Christian Walton who got down low quickly, after the Argentine had time and space to control the low cross.
Bury’s first notable chance came on the 10-minute mark, Chris Hussey’s cross on the left being held by Schwarzer, as Pope was ready at the back post to head in, after great play in midfield by Danny Pugh.
Both teams continued to trade possession in the around the centre for 10-minutes, the next attacking threat coming from The Foxes. Andrej Kramaric hit a lot shot towards the bottom right from the centre of the box, but Walton matched it, after an excellent run and pass by N’Golo Kante on the left.
Leicester took the lead on the 24thminute, Joe Dodoo with a fine individual effort. After receiving the ball on the right, he flicked it up over Peter Clarke’s head and volleyed it in after entering the box. His shot hit the underside of the bar in the centre, bouncing down and nestling into the net to record his first goal for City.
The Shakers next chance came on the half-hour mark, Mellis’ curling effort from outside of the box being held onto by Schwarzer down low to his left, Pope laying the ball off to him after a flurry of short passes under pressure.
Leicester’s new acquisition, Gokhan Inler had a tame effort from 25 yards out saved in the pouring rain on 33-minutes, his shot not troubling Walton, who had time to get down.
The visitors, who were wearing their all black kit, doubled their lead five-minutes before the break. The Croatian, Kramaric dispatching an effort into the bottom left from well outside of the box.
The fourth official added a minute, as the game slowed down in terms of pressure.
HALF-TIME: THE SHAKERS 0-2 LEICESTER CITY
Flitcroft made two changes before the second half, second-year scholar Matty Foulds coming on at left-back for Hussey and Hope being replaced by Danny Rose to match Leicester’s 4-4-2 formation in a bid to try and get that vital next goal.
And it came just before the 50-minute mark, fans favourite, Danny Mayor blasting a shot home from inside the box after a knockdown by Tom Pope, erupting Gigg Lane into a cauldron of noise.
As Bury smelt blood in search of the equaliser, The Foxes did well on the counter, having a number of crosses that weren’t met by the two up front of Ulloa and Kramaric.
The Shakers came close to levelling the game up on the hour mark. Mayor put a delightful through ball to Danny Rose, who shot across goal, the ball going just a few inches wide of the post. Flitcroft made his last change straight after, Mellis off for Craig Jones.
A couple of minutes later and there was a short stoppage as Clarke got treatment from the Bury physio, who came back on shortly after.
Ranieri made his first change on the 65thminute, Jeffrey Schlupp coming on, the player who scored in the same fixture four years ago, replacing the second goal scorer, Kramaric in attack. Ulloa headed over again in the box a minute later.
Bury had the ball in the back of Schwarzer’s net 20-minutes before the end, after Riley put a cross in, but after pressure in the box the linesman put his flag up. Seconds later and Bury’s Jones picked up the first booking of the game, after putting a late tackle in.
Between the 70thand 80thminute, both teams had chances to score the fourth goal of the game. Leicester looked threating through Dodoo on the right and Danny Rose continued to work his socks off, winning a couple of corners through sheer pressure.
The Shakers were a much better unit in this half, but it was Leicester who could’ve extended their lead on the 83rdminute. Kante unleashed an effort in the box, but Walton, who saw it late pulled off a great instinctive block, parrying the shot out of harm’s way.
The Foxes eventually scored their third of the game four minutes before the end. Dodoo broke the offside trap on the right, as he travelled with the ball, he duly slotted home his effort across goal to wrap the tie up.
Joe Dodoo recorded his hat trick as four minutes of additional time were indicated. Capitalising on a defensive error, the ball was laid off to Dodoo in the box, who calmly put it past Walton in the Bury net. Former Manchester United player, Ritchie De Laet then came on for The Foxes for the final few seconds in replace of Liam Moore.
FULL-TIME: THE SHAKERS 1-4 LEICESTER CITY
After producing a terrific performance throughout the second-half, the Premier League outfit were just too strong towards the end. The score line was a bit harsh on The Shakers who at one point looked like they were going to level things up.
Another note of confidence for the club to take from the game is the promising performance of youngster Matty Foulds at left back, he didn’t look out of place throughout his appearance and a bright future awaits.
Next up for The Shakers is a mouth-watering derby against Oldham Athletic on Saturday back at Gigg. A perfect opportunity for the Shakers to come out and support the lads as they search for their first win in SkyBet League One.
STARTING LINEUP: 1. C. Walton (GK), 2. J. Riley, 3. C. Hussey (OFF HT), 4. A. Tutte, 5. P. Clarke, 8. J. Mellis (OFF 61’), 10. D. Mayor, 11. T. Pope, 19. T. Soares (Warm-Up Injury), 22. D. Pugh, 27. N. Cameron (Capt).
BENCH: 26. R. Lainton (GK), 7. H. Hope (Started – OFF HT), 12. C. Sedgwick, 14. C. Jones (ON 61’), 20. S. Burgess, 32. D. Rose (ON HT), 35. M. Foulds (ON HT).
BURY BOOKINGS: Jones (70’).
BURY MAN OF THE MATCH: Danny Mayor
REFEREE: Mr. A. Madley
ATTENDANCE: 4,914 (1,327 Visitors).
Report by Michael Brown