Sunderland came to Bury just five weeks ago and left with a 3-2 victory. This game today could not be further from the pre-season game in terms of what supporters will see this evening.
The game will be much faster than the pre-season game, there will be more football played. Nobody will be charging around the pitch looking for fitness, the crowd will have a real passion and noise coming from the stands and the whole event will be so much more intense than Sunderland’s last visit to Bury.
For one Sunderland player, its perhaps an early return. James Vaughan should start for the Black Cats and he may also get the opportunity to say a proper goodbye to the Bury fans that followed him so religiously last season.
You have to ask, where would we be now without his 24 goals? The answer doesn’t bear thinking about, but it’s pretty certain that if he hadn’t scored all those goals, we wouldn’t be playing at Wigan on Sunday.
Jay O’Shea will miss the game, and the next six weeks, after Lee Clark revealed the state of his injury yesterday. A strained medial ligament will see the former Chesterfield player out of action after just one game, though the gaffer has the perfect player to replace him.
Fresh after his surprise signing last week, and after completing a full pre-season for Huddersfield Town, Harry Bunn is poised to make his Shakers debut after stepping down from the Premier League to join the Shakers.
Jermaine Beckford got his goal tally up and running with his close-range header on Saturday, though it could have been two but for the penalty save. As Becks said himself, he didn’t miss it – the keeper saved it. To a player, that’s a massive difference. To a supporter – he missed it. It’s amazing how differently people see the same incident.
It’s also a special game for Lee Clark, playing against his former club. After two seasons at the Stadium of Light - 88 games and 16 goals - any game against a former club is always considered to be special.
For his players, it’s the chance to showcase their talents in front of a national TV audience. The game was a TV game from the moment the draw was made. Sunderland are arguably the biggest side in the competition at the moment and with recent history on the Shakers side, you never know what will happen. It’s a cup game, absolutely anything can – and usually does - happen.
Sunderland came to Gigg Lane ten years ago, the same stage of the competition and that game changed on four minutes following a red card. Bury went on to win the game 2-0, and the rest as they say, is history. The press the following day was not full of Bury’s shock victory, but of Niall Quinn’s announcement of their new Manager – it took every ounce of gloss off what the Shakers did that night.
With O’Shea missing the game, and Harry Bunn poised to replace him, it wouldn’t be a surprise to otherwise see the same team take to the field at 7:45 this evening. It’s a winning team already, Lee Clark doesn’t change a winning team, unless of course – he has to.
Sunderland’s View: Grayson demands 100%
Simon Grayson has demanded nothing less than one hundred percent from his players when they take on Bury in the Carabao Cup on Thursday evening (KO 7.45pm).
The opening round of the competition will see the Black Cats return to Bury following a 3-2 win over the Shakers in pre-season, with the outing kicking off a busy period for Grayson’s men.
Following the game at Gigg Lane, Sunderland will face Norwich City, Sheffield Wednesday away and Leeds United at the Stadium of Light within the space of six days.
But speaking to safc.com, Grayson stated that his players will take the competition and their opponents seriously.
“It’s very difficult [to rotate the squad] because I treat this competition very seriously and at the start of the season I always like to play my strongest squad to get some sort of unity and confidence.
“But with us playing Thursday, Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday, it’s a real juggling act, so although a large part of the team will be the same there will have to be changes because I have to think about our upcoming games.”
He continued: “We have four in nine days so it’s quite relentless and difficult for a lot of teams, but we’ll deal with it and whoever goes out there is representing the club and they have to try and win to progress.
“There will definitely be an edge to Bury because they’re playing against a team who have just come down, it’s live on the telly and they had a good victory on Saturday.
“We watched them and they’re full of enthusiasm, their work-rate is good, the desire and commitment is there.
"We’re not expecting anything less.”
Last time we played:. 22 Aug 2006 – Bury 2 Sunderland 0 - League Cup 1st Rd
Bury scored twice late on to inflict more misery on 10-man Sunderland.
The visitors played most of the game with only 10 men after Arnau Riera was sent off with less than three minutes gone on his first start for the club.
Eight minutes from time Bury defender John Fitzgerald rose to thump a header past keeper Ben Alnwick from a corner.
Fitzgerald, who had already been booked, was then sent off after he was yellow carded for his celebrations, but an Andy Bishop goal sealed Bury's win.
Sunderland, who have lost their opening four Championship games, got off to the worst possible start against the Football League's bottom club when Riera was dismissed.
The Spaniard was shown the red card after catching Richie Baker with his arm.
Sunderland held on until the last 10 minutes but Alnwick was unable to keep out Fitzgerald's powerful header following Brian Barry-Murphy's corner.
Fitzgerald then jumped straight into the crowd and was sent off for his second yellow card.
But with four minutes left Bishop sprung the offside trap to clip the ball past Alnwick to compound Sunderland's miserable start to the season.
The game could be Niall Quinn's last in charge as boss as he revealed after the game that he was on the verge of securing a new manager.
Bury: Fettis, Scott, Fitzgerald, Woodthorpe, Brass (Parrish 81), Baker, Adams, Buchanan, Mattis (Barry-Murphy 82), Pittman (Youngs 57), Bishop.
Subs Not Used: Collinge, Flitcroft.
Sunderland: Alnwick, Cunningham, Neill Collins, Robbie Elliott (Stead 86), Wright (Lawrence 38), Whitehead, Leadbitter, Riera, Delap (Danny Collins 70), Stephen Elliott, Murphy.
Subs Not Used: Ward, Smith.
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Gigg Lane – First Time Visitor Guide – Click here