BURY’S bid to make the FA Cup third round for the first time in five years lives on after a hard-fought draw at home to the League Two promotion chasers.
But Paul Sturrock’s Shrimpers can think themselves unlucky, with the woodwork twice denying them a deserved cup shock in stoppage time.
A first-half Matt Doherty penalty and a fantastic solo effort from Southend’s Gavin Tomlin four minutes before the break means that both sides will now have to play again onTuesday – with a home tie against either Bradford or Brentford awaiting the winners.
It’s a 500-mile round trip to the Essex coast that Bury could well have done without, but the squad will be strengthened by the return of some of their injured players.
Bury were missing a spine of experienced pros on Saturday – centre-back Adam Lockwood, captain Steven Schumacher and strikers David Healy and Andy Bishop – and it showed. Southend, who are fifth in League Two, started the stronger, with former Bury centre-back Ryan Cresswell heading narrowly wide.
Tomlin and strike-partner Freddy Eastwood also had good chances to put the visitors ahead before Bury stole the lead against the run of play.
There was no debating the penalty after Cresswell felled Lenell John-Lewis and right-back Sean Clohessy bundled over Troy Hewitt as both Bury strikers attempted to get on the end of a David Worrall cross.
Doherty calmly slotted home the spot-kick, but Bury were only able to hang onto the lead for nine minutes before a piece of individual brilliance and some shocking defending handed Southend a way back into the tie.
Tomlin rode a weak challenge from on-loan Wolves defender Ethan Ebanks-Landell on the byline before firing a low drive past Shakers stopper Trevor Carson from a tight angle.
The Bury keeper should really have done better, but it was what Southend deserved. Bury were much the better side in the second period, with visiting goalkeeper Paul Smith pulling off a breathtaking, instinctive save just three minutes after the break to tip over Troy Hewitt’s spectacular overhead effort.
The Shakers almost took the lead moments later when a cross from debutant winger Gregg Wylde – on loan from Bolton Wanderers – nearly looped into the top corner.
Wylde, who slowly came to the fore after a quiet first half, then tested Smith again with a fierce drive.
Bury’s best chance to take the spoils came in the 75th minute when Ebanks-Landell had a great opportunity to redeem himself, but hit the outside of the post from just three yards.
The tide then turned as Sturrock flung on forward Barry Corr and, after 10 minutes of sustained pressure, the Shrimpers should have pulled off a shock at the death. A curling shot by midfielder Michael Timlin had Carson beaten, but it bounced back off his right-hand post and into the path of Corr, who hit the rebound against the other upright with the goal at his mercy.
BURY: Carson 5; Doherty 7, Hughes 6, Ebanks-Landell 5, Skarz 6; Worrall 7, Sweeney 6, Thompson 6, Wylde 7; Hewitt 7 (Carole), John-Lewis 6.
Not used: C Jones, Carrington, Sodje, A Jones, Belford, Soares.
SOUTHEND: Smith; Clohessy, Creswell, Phillips, Barker; Hurst, Timlin, Laird, Martin (Corr); Tomlin, Eastwood (Benyon).
Not used: Straker, Prosser, Bentley, Leonard, Woodyard.
Referee: Andy Haines.