A SUPERBLY placed Josh Morris free kick four minutes from time robbed Bury of a deserved point at home to League One promotion chasers Scunthorpe United.

The Shakers looked to be heading to their second straight goalless draw, following last weekend's rearguard display at Rochdale, before the Iron midfielder's clinical strike.

Bury had their fair share of possession and opportunities in what was an even encounter.

Skipper Jermaine Beckford had their best sights of goal, hitting the post with a shot in the opening half and putting an effort narrowly wide at the start of the second.

But Scunthorpe always looked dangerous, especially from set-pieces, and had a goal direct from a free kick from winger Hakeeb Adelakun ruled out for an infringement.

Veteran player-coach Ryan Lowe made a shock return to the starting line-up, playing just behind Beckford, while deadline day loan signing Josh Laurent started on the right of a five-man midfield in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

The first half took a while to come to the boil before Beckford hit the post on 20 minutes.

Lowe found his strike partner with a clever pull-back after his run to the goalline down the right channel was picked out by Harry Bunn's quick free kick.

But Scunthorpe started to look more threatening and right-back Levi Sutton should have done better on 25 minutes after being found unmarked at the back post, slicing his shot wide and failing to force a save from Joe Murphy.

The Bury keeper was called into action 10 minutes later, however, and got down well to palm away Adelakun's shot after the right-winger was sent clear in behind by Sutton.

The visitors should have opened their account moments later when Murray Wallace headed the ball down into the danger area from a corner and a combination of skipper Rory McArdle and former Shaker Tom Hopper scooped it over from under the bar.

But Bury came back into it in the closing stages, when Rohan Ince put a free header wide from a Bunn corner.

Bunn then missed the target with a shot from the edge of the box after finishing off a move he started. After good build-up play from Laurent, Bunn seized on a lay-off from Lowe but could not control his shot.

The Shakers burst out of the traps at the start of the second half, with Beckford doing well to control a ball in from Laurent before firing a shot inches wide.

Bunn also went on a mazy run into the box, squeezing between two defenders before his cross-shot was put behind and Beckford fired the resulting corner over.

The most contentious moment of the game came five minutes into the second half when Adelakun's free kick was disallowed.

The Scunthorpe wide man curled a sumptuous strike into the top corner from the left of the box, but while he cartwheeled away in celebration the Bury players were shepherding referee Eddie Ilderton towards his assistant on the opposite flank.

After a brief consultation Ilderton ruled out the goal, for either offside or a foul on Murphy.

Bury had their only shot on target in the 61st minute. New boy Laurent arrowed an effort from 25 yards towards the bottom corner but Iron stopper Matt Gilks did well to get down and smother it.

Lowe was given a standing ovation as he was replaced by Chris Maguire on 64 minutes.

But it was Scunthorpe substitute Lee Novak who almost broke the deadlock with his first touch after coming off the bench on 71 minutes, rippling the side netting with a header.

Cameron put in another stirring display at the back for Bury in only his second game back after a year out with a knee injury.

But he started to limp after making a superb last-ditch tackle on Adelakun and eventually had to go off on 78 minutes, grabbing his leg after clearing the Bury lines with an overhead kick.

Just eight minutes after his departure, the Shakers' defensive display was ruined by Morris' moment of brilliance, stroking his set-piece into the top corner from the edge of the D.

Clark threw on another deadline-day signing, Michael Smith, to try to rescue a point, and Scunthorpe skipper McArdle had to be on his toes to clear a dangerous low ball from Jordan Williams as the clocked ticked down.

But the Shakers were unable to make use of four minutes of time added on as they fell to their third straight home defeat in all competitions.

Match ratings

Bury (4-2-3-1): Murphy 6; Williams 6, Whitmore 7, Cameron 8 (Aldred 6 78), Leigh 7; Edwards 7 (Smith 88), Ince 6; Laurent 7, Lowe 7 (Maguire 6 64), Bunn 7; Beckford 7. Subs not used: Skarz, Dai, Cooney, Fasan.

Scunthorpe (4-4-2): Gilks; Sutton, McArdle, Wallace, Townsend; Adelakun (Holmes 71), Ojo, Bishop, Morris; Madden(Van Veen 79), Hopper (Novak 71). Subs not used: Crofts, Mantom, Burgess, Watson.

Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne and Wear).

Attendance: 4,055 (668 visiting).