Bury and Lowestoft prepare to lock horns in play-off semi-final

DESPITE having the edge over local rivals Lowestoft Town this season, Bury Town boss Richard Wilkins has joined his opposite numbers in playing down the significance as the two sides prepare to go head-to-head in tonight’s cracking play-off semi-final.

THREE games, two wins, no defeats and no goals conceded.

It would be very easy for the young Bury Town team to go into tonight’s play-off semi-final with Lowestoft Town over-confident following the two club’s league and cup matches this season.

But both sets of managers are playing down what has gone on before during a rollercoaster 2010/11 campaign which saw Bury and Lowestoft both dally with automatic promotion and then almost miss out on the play-offs altogether.

Lowestoft joint boss Ady Gallagher insists the Trawlerboys will have no inferiority complex while his opposite number, Richard Wilkins, believes his side’s unbeaten record counts for nothing now that the local rivals are each just two wins away from the Conference South.

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Wilkins said: “I don’t think the previous games count for anything. What happened before has no relevance on tonight, it is just a one-off cup final where anything can happen.”

After a goalless league draw at Ram Meadow in February, Bury have had the upper hand since – winning 3-0 in the Suffolk Premier Cup semi-final and then crucially winning at Lowestoft 1-0 on Easter Monday.

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Gallagher said: “We’ve played them (Bury) three times and we haven’t scored against them, but I feel we have played well enough in all those games to get something.

“The games that have gone don’t count for anything now. Do I feel Bury are a better side than us? No. Are they a better footballing side than us? No, I really don’t think so. It’s down to us to prove it on the day.”

Bury have home advantage in tonight’s Ryman League Premier Division promotion play-off semi-final, by right of finishing higher than Lowestoft, and Ram Meadow should be buzzing to the tune of well in excess of 1,000 people for the 7.45pm kick off.

But Wilkins’ men have stuttered of late, including in the first half of Saturday’s must-win match at home to Wealdstone, and they go into the play-offs missing the crucial experience of James Scowcroft and Neil Andrews from the heart of the midfield.

It is a fact not lost on Wilkins who has experienced the tension of the play-offs with Colchester and Cambridge.

He said: “We are a little bit down to the bare bones and the centre of midfield is our biggest question mark. We will have to decide what is best for us against Lowestoft.

“I think a manager who says they are not worried about the opposition is a bit of cop-out. Every manager should look at the opposition and give them respect by knowing what their strengths and weaknesses are. We just have to balance how we can be offensively strong and defensively settled.”

In contrast, Lowestoft are almost at full strength, but for long-term injury victim Michael Frew and Jamie Forshaw (hamstring). And they have further bolstered their numbers by recalling experienced midfielder Jamie Godbold from his loan spell from Needham Market.

Mick Chapman, joint Lowestoft boss, said: “This is a massive game for us and we wanted to go there with as strong a squad as possible, so Jamie was always on our minds.”

Both sides won their respective titles last year and Lowestoft are gunning for a fantastic three successive promotions.

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