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Bury 1 Oxford United 1
BURY jumped three places to 17th in the League Two table with a well-deserved point against promotion hopefuls Oxford United.
Shakers boss David Flitcroft had voiced concerns about the effect the shock departure of Chris Wilder would have on Oxford players out to impress a prospective new manager.
But it was Bury who were the aggressors throughout and they will think themselves unlucky not to gain all three points after Craig Jones handed them a 56th-minute lead.
A momentary lapse in concentration cost them the victory as Josh Ruffels equalised two minutes later, but the point maintained Bury’s good run of only one defeat in their last seven matches.
Neither goalkeeper had a great deal to do in a cagey first half that could have been so different had Anton Forrester not wasted a golden chance to open the scoring in the 10th minute.
The on-loan striker headed a great cross from Andrew Tutte straight into the turf from six yards and Oxford goalkeeper Ryan Clarke easily gathered the ball underneath his crossbar.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between as Oxford allowed Bury to play the ball around their back three.
Jim McNulty showed supreme confidence to dummy circling strikers to bring the ball out of the Bury defence.
But the Shakers backline were playing a dangerous game on a sticky pitch, and Ruffels provided a warning, slipping past Pablo Mills before seeing his shot charged down.
At the other end, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro tested Clarke with a curling effort while Forrester skied an angled drive.
Clarke came out quickly to deny Grimes at the start of the second half before the Bury forward was replaced by fit-again Daniel Nardiello on 50 minutes.
It was Nardiello who helped provide the breakthrough six minutes later, sending in a cross from the left that Clarke spilled into the feet of Jones at the back post, who fired into an empty net.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Ruffels rose highest to head home a Danny Rose corner at the back post.
After McNulty stood up well to block a Dave Kitson effort from close range, the Shakers were unlucky not to regain their lead, the Oxford keeper getting down well to turn behind an instinctive strike from Nardiello.
Both Mills and substitute Clive Platt had chances to win it late, but it was not to be for a Bury side that continued their much-improved form.