BURY returned from Merseyside last night wondering just how they managed to leave empty-handed.
Joss Labadie struck first for a Tranmere side that had lost their last six, firing home from a 24th-minute corner.
The Shakers took time to get into their stride having been forced to field a new-look midfield and dominated the last half hour.
But as Bury continued to push for an equaliser in stoppage time, Rovers beat the offisde trap for Ash Taylor to deny the Shakers a point they richly deserved.
Bury boss Richie Barker made four changes with influential midfield duo Steve Schumacher and Peter Sweeney both suspended after picking up a fifth yellow card in the 3-1 win at Scunthorpe on Boxing Day.
Left-back Joe Skarz returned from a onematch ban while Barker preferred Lenell John- Lewis to David Amoo and Patrick Cregg made his first appearnce since August.
Bury went behind after being caught out by a set-piece move Rovers have been playing all season.
Danny Holmes cut the corner back towards the edge of the box, where Lucas Akins dummied for an unmarked Labadie to sweep past Cameron Belford.
Bury replied with John- Lewis sidefooting wide after Dave Worrall’s low cross caught him by surprise.
And the Shakers restricted Tranmere to two long-range efforts before Michael Jones and Cregg went close.
Shortly after half-time, a John-Lewis volley tested home keeper Paul Rachubka before Belford produced a fine reflex save after Mark Carrington turned a Tranmere cross towards his own goal.
Mark Hughes then cleared with two Tranmere men ready to add the final touch, but David Amoo’s introduction helped swing the game in Bury’s favour.
Both Hughes and Skarz went close before Hughes headed narrowly over from a Jones free-kick.
Ashley Eastham then ghosted in at the far post to head just over from Jones’s right-wing cross.
But as Bury threw caution to the wind, Belford had to backpedal to keep out Weir’s audacious volley.
The Shakers then rushed out when the corner was cleared but Labadie crossed the ball back in and Akins squared for Taylor to sidefoot home.
TRANMERE: Rachubka 7, Holmes 7, Taylor 7, McChrystal 7, Buchanan 7, Akins 8, Labadie 8, Baxter 8, McGurk 7 (Bakayogo 75), Weir 7 (Power, 92), Tiryaki 7. Not used: Coughlin, Raven, Robinson.
BURY: Belford 7, Picken 7 (Eastham 85), Sodje 7, Hughes 7, Skarz 7, Carrington 7, M Jones 7, Cregg 7, Worrall 7 (Amoo 63, 8), John-Lewis 6, Bishop 6 (Harrad 80). Not used: A Jones, Branagan.
REFEREE: Fred Graham.