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In opposition this season: Bury

9 July 2014

The Grecians will close out September by hosting David Flitcroft’s Bury, who again include former Exeter City player Daniel Nardiello in their ranks.  Oliver Roderick takes a look at another of the Grecians’ early opponents this term.


Last season
After a mixed opening month in 2013/14, Bury slumped to the lower echelons of Sky Bet League 2 after going without a win for the whole of September and most of October.  That run was halted by a 2-1 success at Wycombe Wanderers, but from there only one win was taken from the following ten. 

It was that disappointing form which led to the club parting ways with manager Kevin Blackwell, with ex-Barnsley boss David Flitcroft arriving in early-December.

The Shakers were unable to make any headway with regards to ascending the table, though: one win out of a possible eight in March meant relegation worries were very real towards the season’s end, but under Flitcroft, Bury saved themselves just in time.  They went undefeated in their final 12, winning four of those, and ended in 20th.


The summer so far
Bury kicked off their summer by releasing eight players from their squad, including retiree Phil Picken and former Burnley goalkeeper Brian Jensen.

The Shakers started to fill the gaps left by that octet by making Danny Mayor’s loan from Sheffield Wednesday permanent, signing Nicky Adams from Championship Rotherham and re-signing striker Ryan Lowe from Tranmere Rovers.  Further additions were made with the arrivals of Iraqi-born goalkeeper Shwan Jalal, former loanee Chris Hussey and defender Keil O’Brien from Chorley.

Most recently, midfielder Kelvin Etuhu has joined, with manager David Flitcroft looking for wholescale improvements on last season’s disappointing campaign.


The manager

Best-known for spells at Chester City and Rochdale as a player, David Flitcroft followed his older brother Garry into football and enjoyed a playing career that stretched through almost 20 years.

After playing, Flitcroft became a coach at Rochdale, and would follow manager Keith Hill when he left for Barnsley.  Named caretaker manager after Hill’s sacking, Flitcroft won two of his three games in temporary charge and was handed control on a permanent basis.  Sacked himself by the Tykes in November of the following season, Flitcroft was announced as Bury manager just over a week later.

Since joining the Shakers in December, Flitcroft has won nine of his 27 games, drawing a further 13. 


Ones to watch

New signing Kelvin Etuhu was a key player in the Cardiff City side that ultimately lost out to Blackpool in the 2009/10 Championship play-off final; he joined Bury on a two-year deal this summer following his release from Barnsley.  Known for his strength, Etuhu could be utilised either as the engine room at the heart of the side or as a battering ram, opening up spaces for teammates to exploit.

Striker Ryan Lowe recently revealed that he had been the subject of interest from Championship clubs before leaving Tranmere to join Bury.  His first spell at Gigg Lane, between 2009 and 2011, was the most successful of his career, scoring an impressive 52 times in 97 games.  Now 35, Lowe will look to achieve promotion with Bury again this year, just like he did when they finished second in 2010/11.


Head to head
The Grecians have had a hard time of things in this fixture of late, winning only two of the 11 meetings between the sides since the turn of the millennium.  A 5-2 SJP win in 1991 was the best it has got for Exeter City in the 34 games, dating back to a 2-1 Exeter FA Cup win in during the famous run of 1931, 30 years before the second match in the series would take place.

Exeter City wins: 8
Bury wins: 18
Draws: 8


Club links

Bury striker Daniel Nardiello was a Grecian between 2010 and 2012, scoring 19 goals in 66 appearances in his time at St James Park.  Nardiello, whose youth career was spent at Wolves and then Manchester United, has an extensive CV of Football League clubs, and has at one point or another been on the books at Swansea City, Barnsley, Queens Park Rangers, Blackpool, Hartlepool United, Oldham Athletic and Rotherham.  This is his third spell at Gigg Lane, but the first on a permanent basis, having been on loan there in 2009 and during the first half of last season.

Ronnie Jepson won the Division Two title with Bury in 1997 under Stan Ternent, four years after he had played 54 matches during his time as a Grecian.  He returned to Bury as assistant to Kevin Blackwell in summer 2013, before leading as caretaker in the run-up to David Flitcroft’s appointment that December.

Nigerian international David Adekola was sent on loan from Bury to Exeter City in 1994.  Adekola would later play his football in the German lower leagues, returning to play non-league football in England before hanging up his boots in 2001.


Key clash
Exeter City 3-2 Bury, St James Park, Saturday 18th February 2012

Exeter edged to a narrow victory over Bury in an enthralling encounter.

Troy Archibald-Henville headed in his second goal of the season to put the Grecians into an early lead.  Daniel Nardiello scored from the penalty against his future employers to make it 2-0 after Jake Taylor was fouled by Efe Sodje in the area, but Bury pulled one back through David Amoo’s low shot.

Richard Logan nodded in at the back post for 3-1, with Bury substitute Ashley Eastham setting up a nervy finish with his late strike.


Odds
Bury are currently 15/2 favourites to win League 2 this season with Sky Bet.  7/4 are their odds for promotion, while relegation clocks in at 25/1.

On the opening day, the Shakers host Cheltenham Town at Gigg Lane.  David Flitcroft’s side are 5/6 to win that one, the draw is 11/4 while a Robins win would be 12/5.

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