KEVIN Blackwell may not be relishing the unwelcome addition of a 500-mile round trip to Southend to his side’s busy pre-Christmas schedule.

But stand-in captain Joe Skarz was a relieved man after Bury scrapped and scraped their way to a replay following Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to the League Two Essex side in the second round of the FA Cup.

“At least we were in the hat,” said the 23-year-old left-back.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been in the third round, but we know we can play better than that.”

Skarz, pictured, and his team-mates will have a chance to put right Saturday’s performance – which included two late Southend strikes against the Bury woodwork – when they travel to Roots Hall on Tuesday.

The “carrot” for the winners will be a tie at home to Bradford or Brentford, and the Bury defender is sure the Shakers have what it takes to book their place in the third round for the first time since 2007. “Obviously it’s a long trip for us, but we will go down there prepared,” he said.

“We’ve got rid of our hoodoo of winning away – we’ve won at Scunthorpe and at Oldham – so we will go down there full of confidence and hopefully play a bit better than we did on Saturday.”

Skarz will also continue to lead by example after being handed the arm-band in the absence of injured captain Steven Schumacher.

“I just try and concentrate on my own game and hopefully the lads will continue doing what they’ve been doing,” he said.

“We all rally around each other anyway. “Obviously, Schuey’s a bit more experienced than I am and a bit more vocal and all the lads respect him, but we’re all in it together and we’ll keep going.”