Saturday 17 December 2016, 15.00, Gigg Lane

A second game of the season across the border and this time it’s the League One clash between Bury and Oxford United.

A weekend in Manchester was the opportunity to visit a ground I hadn’t been to before and Bury fitted in best with our plans.

Gigg Lane has been Bury’s home since they was founded.  The ground has been extensively redeveloped in recent years and since 1993, all sides of the ground has seen new stands built.  There is still a feel of the old from outside the ground, but inside sees the plastic seats football fans have become accustomed to.

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It’s a decent set-up, with a club shop and social club at the front of the entrance to the car park in front of the ground.  The Club announced at the end of the 2015/16 season, that they are exploring with the local council possible sites for a new stadium.

Bury were formed in 1885 and after playing in a local league, joined the Football League Second Division in 1894, which they won at the first attempt.

Bury won the FA Cup on 21 April 1900 and again in 1903. The second win was achieved without conceding a goal in the entire competition, including a record FA Cup Final score of 6-0 over Derby County, which remains the highest ever victory in an FA Cup Final.

1926 saw their highest League position ever, fourth in the First Division.  Two years later they were relegated and have never played top-flight football again.  By 1971, they had reached the Fourth Division.

They have won the third tier in 1895  and the second in 1961 and 1997.

Following the collapse of ITV Digital they were relegated to League Two in 2001 after a spell in administration for financial irregularities.

In 2006, Bury became the first team to ever be thrown out of the FA Cup after fielding an ineligible player. This led to a terrible run of results and they only just escaped relegation to the Conference.

They narrowly missed promotion in 2008-09 before going up in 2011-12.  Relegation the following season put them back in League Two, but two years later, they were back up again.

At the end of last season Bury were 14th in League One but were subsequently deducted three points for fielding an ineligible player for the final 15 minutes of their last game and dropped down to 16th.

Caretaker manager Chris Brass had been given the job permanently in the lead up to the game.  He doesn’t have things easy with 5 of his first team squad on the injury list and two suspended.  Antony Kay and Niall Maher returned to the squad after their suspensions and goalkeeper Paul Rachubka made his debut.

Bury were in need of points and a defeat would likely send them into the relegation zone.

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Oxford United began life in 1893 as an amateur club called Headington.  In 1911 they merged with neighbours Headington Quarry, the new club going under the name Headington United.  The club moved from Junior to Senior football in 1921, joining the Oxfordshire Senior League.

In 1949 the club was elected to the Southern League and became semi-professional.

They won their first Southern League Championship in 1953 and the following season reached the Fourth Round of the FA Cup beating League clubs Millwall and Stockport County.

In 1960 the club’s name was changed to Oxford United and they were elected to the Football League in 1962.

They reached the sixth round of the FA Cup in 1964, then the only fourth division side ever to do so and a year later won promotion.  Two years later they were promoted again.

A first relegation came in 1975-76 before they were saved from bankruptcy in 1982 by millionaire publisher Robert Maxwell.

The Third Division was won in 1984 and a year later, the second division, putting Oxford in the top league for the first time.  They narrowly avoided relegation but won the League Cup, getting their hands on their first ever major trophy.

They survived again the following season, just, before relegation came in 1987-88.  There was a further relegation in 1993 as the club rejoined the third tier.

1995-96 saw them going in the right direction again with promotion gained on the final day of the season before dropping down again in 1998-99. Two years later they were back in the bottom tier again, just before they moved to a new ground.

Things got worse as they dropped down to the Conference in 2005-06.  They finally regained their League status in 2010 after a play-off win at Wembley.

In 2015-16 they reached the final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, losing 3-2 to Barnsley at Wembley. The club also finished second to secure promotion to League One and are currently in mid table.

Aaron Martin has been ruled out for the rest of the season and joins Joe Skarz on the injured list.

Former Everton striker James Vaughan appears for Bury while Scottish interest comes in the shape of Oxford’s former Motherwell winger Marvin Johnson and ex Dundee man Kane Hemmings.

There were 2,986 at the game, 477 of which were in the away end.

In 5 minutes, Rachubka took a Bury free kick and booted the ball up the right hand side.  Vaughan ran onto the ball as the Oxford defence hesitated and he cleverly lifted the ball over the head of Eastwood and into the net to give the home side an early lead.

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Bury were a bit sloppy at the back in 7 minutes and the ball came to Maguire on the corner of the box, but it was a comfortable save for Rachubka.

Bury were back on the attack after 8 minutes after another long ball, with Miller shooting powerfully from the right hand side of the box, but Eastwood managed to parry the ball to safety.

Soares picked up the first yellow card of the game in 9 minutes after pulling back Oxford’s Hall.  Maguire struck the resultant free kick well, but it was just too high of the top corner.

There were claims for a penalty from Bury in 11 minutes when Pope’s shot seemed to hit an arm, but a spot kick would have been harsh and the referee waved play on.

Etuhu fouled Hall in 13 minutes, giving Oxford a free kick about 20 yards out.  Maguire may well have been setting his sights with the first free kick, as this time he floated the ball round the wall and into the bottom corner to leave Rachubka helpless and give Oxford the equaliser.

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The home side would have been disappointed to give up the lead so quickly, but they didn’t let their heads drop and only a magnificent clearing header by Dunkley in 15 minutes prevented Pope from putting Bury back in front from close range after a Soares cross.

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Bedeau then had a shot from outside the box at the Oxford goal in 16 minutes which was too high.

In 18 minutes, Hemmings showed good strength to hold off a Bury defender, but his curling shot went narrowly wide from 20 yards.

Hall picked up the away side’s first booking in 20 minutes for going down looking for a penalty.

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An attempted cross by Maguire into the Bury box in 22 minutes had to be pushed over the bar by Rachubka for a corner which came to nothing.

Oxford came forward in 25 minutes and Hall played a clever one-two before cutting the ball back for Hemmings, but Rachubka blocked his shot.

Maguire was lucky to escape a booking in 27 minutes for a late challenge on Bury’s Leigh.

An Oxford corner in 34 minutes produced an almighty scramble in the Bury box with three efforts on goal blocked.  The ball came out to MacDonald whose shot was magnificently saved by Rachubka before the flag went up as Hemmings reacted to the rebound.

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Bury’s Etuhu was shown a yellow card in 36 minutes for what seemed to be an off the ball incident (or a very late tackle) on Johnson.

Oxford were causing problems for the home defence and in 38 minutes Maguire latched onto a cut back but lashed the ball wide of goal.

A minute later there was another goal, but it was Bury who scored the third of the game.  A cross to the back post saw a Bury header cleared off the line, but Pope was there to nod in the rebound from close range.

Bedeau went into the book on 42 minutes after a foul on the edge of his own box.  Maguire stepped up and hit an even better free kick than his earlier one, putting it in the top corner to level the scores once again.

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A very entertaining first half came to a close with both sides having had their moments and four goals to enjoy.

A great ball through for Miller in 48 minutes looked to be giving Bury a chance, but Johnson got back well to tackle him in the box.

Some good play by the home side in 49 minutes had Miller in again, but this time Eastwood was out quickly to claim.

A 50-50 challenge in 54 minutes saw Bury’s Miller and Oxford’s Maguire challenge for the ball.  It resulted in a booking for Maguire, who seemed to go in with both feet.

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Hemmings played a one-two as Oxford broke in 56 minutes and raced into the box.  His well struck shot hit the post and went wide of goal.

Johnson was the next name in the referee’s book in 63 minutes, bringing down Bury’s Hall.

A good strike from distance by Kay in 67 minutes was a bit too central and Eastwood managed to hold on in the Oxford goal.

In 71 minutes, Johnson flashed the ball across the Bury goal and it hit Leigh and flew into his own goal to give Oxford the lead.  The defender looked a little slow to sort his feet out, but the ball did reach him quickly.

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A cross into the Oxford box in 78 minutes saw Dunkley slide in to clear and he wasn’t far away from scoring an own goal which would have levelled things up again.

With 9 minutes left a bad tackle by Pope on Maguire saw a lot of pushing and shoving and lots of whistle blowing by the ref.  Pope was given the yellow card along with Oxford’s MacDonald.

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Kay was next in the book for taking out MacDonald in 86 minutes.

Both teams had efforts from distance in the closing minutes, but Oxford maintained their advantage to come away with the 3 points.

Oxford’s win made it eight games unbeaten in all competitions for them and 12 straight defeats for the home side.

Mayor and Miller in particular were best for Bury while Maguire stood out for Oxford.

Full Time: Bury 2 Oxford United 3

Admission: £18

Bury: 21 Paul Rachubka, 3 Greg Leigh, 4 Kelvin Etuhu, 6 Antony Kay, 10 Danny Mayor (Walker 45), 11 Tom Pope, 12 James Vaughan (Hope 73), 19 Tom Soares, 20 Scott Burgess, 29 George Miller, 30 Jacob Bedeau (Maher 60). Subs: 1 Ben Williams, 15 Anthony Dudley, 22 Niall Maher, 23 Tom Walker, 24 Hallam Hope, 34 Callum Styles, 35 Ryan Cooney.

Oxford United: 1 Simon Eastwood, 4 John Lundstram, 5 Curtis Nelson, 10 Chris Maguire, 11 Alexander MacDonald, 15 Kane Hemmings (Taylor 92), 16 Philip Edwards, 19 Robert Hall (Roberts 80), 23 Ryan Ledson, 28 Marvin Johnson, 33 Chey Dunkley. Subs: 13 Benjamin Buchel, 14 John Ruffels, 17 Johnny Giles, 18 Joe Rothwell, 20 Ryan Taylor, 21 Tyler Roberts, 25 Charlie Raglan.

Referee:  Darren Drysdale

Programme: £3.

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