Bury are starting to find life tough going in League Two for the first time this season after hitting something of a blip.
A run of six wins, two draws and two defeats saw the highly-fancied Shakers hit the ground running, but the wheels are starting to come off with four straight defeats.
A Johnstone’s Paint Trophy exit at home to Tranmere began the poor sequence, before Bury lost at Morecambe, then suffered further home misery against Newport County and surprisingly Dagenham & Redbridge last weekend.
The defeat to lowly Dagenham saw the Shakers booed off by some sections of supporters as they dropped out out of the play-off places for the first time since August.
Boss David Flitcroft is determined to get the fans back onside though as he told the Bury Times: “I don’t think there was a level head (when I arrived) at this football club, and I don’t think there is now.
“There is a high expectation and I think some of the level of comments that are coming towards the players and myself, whether it is justified or not is something we are going to have to deal with.
“When I first came to the club I couldn’t believe how every department was fighting within itself, the whole organisation was fighting within itself and I tried to pull a synergy together.
“I feel that is just disjointed now and I feel it is just becoming pulled apart, so it is my job to try to make sure that I balance that out and connect again.
“People on the outside will just want quick change, but you can’t just do that.
“We are trying to build something here but if you want to build something up high you have got to make sure that your foundations are in place and we have got a lot of work to do.”
Flitcroft has most definitely been shuffling the pack to try and turn things around as he utilised the loan market making a host of temporary signings prior to the window closing last week.
He bolstered his squad in all positions, bringing in Rotherham duo, keeper Scott Loach and midfielder Robert Milsom, Bristol City defender Adam El-Abd and Bolton defender Hayden White.
Players were also sent out too, as Joe Thompson joined Wrexham and James Poole headed for Dover Athletic, while Joe Widdowson moved to Dagenham & Redbridge.
However, not all the loan captures have worked as Flitcroft would have hoped as both Loach and White are now back at their parent clubs.
White picked up a knee injury on his debut, so is with the Cobblers for treatment, but Loach won’t be returning after an unsuccessful three matches, with Flitcroft admitting the move just hadn’t worked out.
Team news: Hatters are without a host of first team players, with Paul Benson (broken leg), Luke Guttridge (metatarsal), Alex Lawless (foot), Shaun Whalley (knock), Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu (hamstring) and Curtley Williams (shoulder) all missing.
Matt Robinson has returned from his loan spell at Kidderminster though and Luke Wilkinson is available after his suspension.
Bury have recent loan signings Adam El-Abd and Rob Milsom unavailable for selection, while key defender Pablo Mills is doubtful after missing two games with a groin strain.
Hallam Hope, Chris Hussey and Chris Sedgwick should all be fit to return though.
Top goalscorer: Hatters - Mark Cullen (8). Shakers: Danny Rose (8).
Man in the middle: Nigel Miller - County Durham referee has taken 14 games this season, showing 36 yellow cards and yet to brandish a red.
Reffed Luton’s opening game at Carlisle United, where the Hatters triumphed 1-0, his fourth time in charge of Luton, and has yet to see them concede a goal.
The first was a Championship outing back in the 2005-06 season when Derby were beaten 1-0.
Miller then took two goalless draws at home to Southend the following campaign and at Accrington in League Two during the 2008-09 campaign.
Assistant Referees for the game are Anthony Tankard and Ian Dudley, with Andy Scregg the fourth official.
In charge: David Flitcroft: 40-year-old who is the younger brother of the former Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City player Garry Flitcroft.
Started his playing career at Preston North End, while had spells at Lincoln, Chester, Rochdale, Macclesfield before joining Bury in 2004, playing over 100 times for the club.
Moved to non-league Hyde United, but returned to Rochdale as assistant manager, until hanging up his boots in 2009.
Appointed number two at Barnsley in June 2011, he was named caretaker boss during the 2012-13 season, and on earning the full time post, guided the club to Championship safety in the final game.
Was sacked after a poor run of results in November 2013 though, but wasn’t out of work for too long as he was appointed Bury boss on December 9, and will celebrate a year in charge next week.
View from the opposition: Striker Ryan Lowe, who helped Shrewsbury beat Everton in the FA Cup earlier in his career, told the Bury Times: “The FA Cup, for me as a kid, was the biggest cup competition in the world, and it would be great to repay the Bury fans by helping the club achieve something like that.”
One to watch: Danny Rose. 20-year-old striker who began his career at Barnsley but penned a permanent deal at Gigg Lane in August this year after a spell on loan at Gigg Lane last term.
Started the season in red hot form, netting five goals in his first seven games, including scoring in the 1-1 draw at Kenilworth Road,
Went on a six game run without scoring though and has only managed three in his last 15 matches, although remains the club’s top scorer.
Friendly faces: Hatters keeper Mark Tyler spent two months on loan at Bury from Peterborough in the 2008-09 season making 11 appearances for the Shakers.
Striker Mark Cullen also spent two loans spells with the club while at Hull City.
His first stint was in League One in the 2011-12 where he made one start and three sub appearances.
He then returned in the 2012-13 campaign, making seven league starts and three sub appearances, scoring just once in the 2-2 draw at Stevenage.
We’ve got FA Cup form: Luton have played Bury just once in the FA Cup, that a first round tie back on January 13, 1923.
Town were beaten 2-1 on the day with Alf Tirrell netting from the penalty spot, one of five goals during his 130 appearances for the club.
Hatters: Gibbon, Lennon, Tirrell, Molyneux, Jennings, Roe, Hoar, Higginbotham, Walker, Butcher, Clarkson.