By Chris, a Bury season ticket holder plus he writes a page in the Official programme.
Seven games into the season and Bury had made an average start. 2 wins by the odd goal and a couple of draws against teams who were predicted to be in the lower realms of League Two. Despite having the lion-share of the ball against Barnet and Hereford, the Shakers were lacking the killer instinct up front.
Nicky impressed the Bury manager, Alan Knill, whilst playing for the Manchester United second string in the Lancashire Senior Cup tie at Gigg Lane earlier in the week. He got himself on the score sheet and looked a threat most of the match. Luckily for Bury, United didn’t have many reserve team fixtures and agreed to a month’s loan. Nicky was happy to be given the opportunity of gaining vital first-team experience. Nicky signed on the Friday evening, just in time to be included in the squad travelling to Cheltenham Town the following day. He came off the bench in the last ten minutes at Cheltenham but it wasn’t long enough to make an impact, he got a few touches of the ball, and put through the advancing Mike Jones but he failed to hit the target.
The following Tuesday and a tough away trip to Morecambe who’d beaten Championship side Coventry a few weeks earlier and were still unbeaten at their new home. 67 minutes into the game Ajose replaced Ryan Lowe with the Shakers leading 2-1. Nicky’s lightning acceleration created the third goal for Bury, skinning Tony Capaldi and cleverly squaring back for Andy Haworth who slotted home and made sure of the points. After the game a delighted Alan Knill told the press that Ajose’s pace and skill would add another option for the Shakers attack. Another appearance from the bench at home to Rotherham and then a start against Shrewsbury in the JPT, gave the home fans their first glimpses of the youngster. His pace again was his main threat; he controlled the ball well and looked to get in behind the defenders. He was caught offside a few times, inexperience and a little bit of over-enthusiasm were probable causes. He scored in the penalty shoot out – sending the keeper the wrong way. Helping the Shakers to a 6-5 shoot out victory.
A full league debut followed against Accrington Stanley. He formed a partnership with Ryan Lowe, who had just signed a contract extension a few days earlier. Lowe’s excellent form continued and Ajose set him up for the first goal. The second half saw the Shakers take full control and keeper Belford caught well from a cross and was alert to see Nicky making a run through the middle. A great ball saw Ajose take the ball down well and raced through to secure his first league goal. Lowe and Ajose worked well together, the combination of Lowe’s good movement and Ajose’s pace and trickery would have been a challenge to any team in the division. Such was Ajose’s impact; the fans were calling for the club to try to extend the loan.
Another tough game followed a week later and a victory away at Torquay saw Ajose on the score sheet once again. He showed great composure to dribble past the Torquay keeper and calmly slot home an equaliser after being 2-0 down. Nicky continued to test the defenders and looked to have improved his strength on the ball, aided by his good technical attributes and close ball control. Another assist later in the game showed that he was becoming a key player for the form team in League Two.
Following good progress reports to the Old Trafford coaching staff and the improvement Nicky had shown, United agreed to extend the deal until 3rd January 2011.
The games come thick and fast at this level and Ajose added strength to the Shakers line up. He took his chance when given a place in the starting lineup, and Knill has rewarded the youngster with a run in the team. In the home games against Southend and Bradford City, Ajose was highlighted as the threat, with both teams closing him down as soon as he was on the ball. The perfect example of this was when he was brought down in the area just three minutes into the Southend match. He also played some nice through balls from deep and wide areas and looked to be developing a strong relationship with Lowe. Both players have spoken in the press about enjoying playing alongside each other and Nicky mentioned that it could only benefit his game playing alongside a clever player who knew the league so well. The away trip to Aldershot saw Ajose add to his tally with a wonderfully taken lob from just inside the 18 yard box.
Although the last few matches haven’t gone Bury’s way, mainly due to teams coming to Gigg Lane and playing defensively and nicking the odd goal, Nicky has continued to improve his all-round game. His off the ball movement is creating space for the wide-men to get into and he has created plenty of chances for the other strikers. He looks to have got a lot fitter in the past month and has adapted well to a more physical league. There’s some key games coming up in the next six weeks and Nicky will be a vital part of the team if Bury are able to build upon the good foundation they’ve set themselves. Promotion is still a possibility and there’s nothing more the Shakers fans would like than Nicky staying at Gigg Lane for the rest of the season. Whether this happens, is down to the managers but whatever happens, he’s shown great improvement over the past month or so and the exposure to regular first-team football can only be a good thing for the lad himself and the two clubs.
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