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FULL TIME: Bury 2 Bristol Rovers 1
TOM Soares scored with his first touch to head home a late winner and propel Bury into the top half of the League Two table.
The Shakers jumped six places to 12th after extending their unbeaten run at the JD Stadium under manager David Flitcroft’s leadership to 10 matches.
Everton loan signing Hallam Hope had given them the perfect start after thundering home a third-minute drive to score on his home debut and make it two goals in two games following his opener in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Northampton Town.
But Kaid Mohamed’s equaliser on the stroke of half time looked to have handed Rovers a point before Soares’ telling late introduction.
Bury initially picked up where they left off on Saturday as Hope’s pile-driver gave them a deserved lead. The 20-year-old Everton loan striker controlled a knockdown on his thigh before rifling a right-footed half-volley across goal and into the corner.
The home side remained in the ascendancy throughout the half but were made to pay for a number of missed chances.
Centre-back Pablo Mills climbed well but failed to get over the ball as he headed a Chris Hussey corner over in the 22nd-minute.
Andrew Tutte then saw a 25-yard drive whistle past the post and Hope was unlucky to see his pull-back to an unmarked Daniel Nardiello cut out after a powerful run to the byline.
Nardiello’s clean strike then just cleared the bar, before Rovers barged their way back into the game.
Brian Jensen used his legs to block a John-Joe O’Toole effort from six yards on 44 minutes and Mohamed put the rebound over.
The Rovers striker was in the right place at the right time to claim the equaliser in the first minute of stoppage time after Ollie Clarke’s shot from the edge of the box deflected off him into the goal.
And while Jensen had no chance with that effort, he pulled out a save from the top drawer to deny Matt Harold in the last act of the first half.
The visitors continued to create chances after the break with Harold diverting a Lee Brown cross just wide of the far post and Michael Smith flashing a 25-yard shot across goal.
Bury slowly came back into it after the hour as Nardiello’s low shot was deflected just wide of the far post.
And the late introduction of Soares made the difference as the former Stoke midfielder lost his marker to glance home a header from Hussey’s 81st-minute corner.
The victory – Bury’s first at home since February 1 – handed them a 10-point cushion over the drop zone with six games of the season to play.