BURY battled their way to a pulsating point against promotion hopefuls Rochdale, who played more than 45 minutes with only 10 men.
The game – played in front of the Sky TV cameras and almost 6,300 fans – was billed as the battle of the Bolton-born bosses – Rochdale’s Keith Hill and Bury’s David Flitcroft.
It is hard to say if either will have been 100 per cent happy with the result – as Dale missed out on the chance to go top of League Two and Bury failed to convert their man advantage.
But the end-to-end East Lancs derby was a fantastic advert for the division and a great watch for the neutral.
Rochdale started on top, but lost their way in the first half after star striker Scott Hogan - League Two’s player of the month for February – went off with a knee injury.
And they went into the break with a mountain to climb after Ian Henderson foolishly got himself sent off for a second yellow card.
Jack O’Connell had an early shooting chance from 10 yards that ballooned into the grateful hands of Shakers stopper Brian Jensen, while Jamie Allen should have done better with a toe poke in the box.
Influential midfielder Peter Cavanagh then headed over before Hogan went down in the 17th minute following a challenge from Jim McNulty.
Allen also put a header wide before Henderson picked up the first of his two bookings for a deliberate handball.
Bury offered little going forward with Daniel Nardiello buying a bit of space in the box before unleashing a shot that flew just over the bar, but the game turned in their favour when Henderson was given his marching orders two minutes before the break after dragging back Jake Carroll.
Flitcroft made a double substitution at half-time, bringing on Tom Soares and Lewis Young for Danny Mayor and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro.
And the pair almost made an instant impact, with Soares putting Young through on goal but the younger brother of Manchester United’s Ashley Young failed to trouble the Dale keeper with an attempted flick.
Rochdale's Peter Vincenti was lucky to get away with a handball from a Bury corner that Pablo Mills put on to the bar.
But 10-man Dale continued to carry a goal threat.
Michael Rose had Jensen beaten with a curling free-kick that bounced just the wrong side of his near post, while Cavanagh also beat the Bury stopper with a powerful shot that curled just wide.
When Bury did get on the ball they looked dangerous on the break, and Dale keeper Josh Lillis had to make himself big to block a Soares shot from close range.
But Jensen continued to be tested at the other end, substitute George Porter forcing him into a fingertip save to keep out his stinging 25-yard strike.
Bury got on top at the death, however, as Lillis pulled off two fantastic point-blank saves, denying Nardiello with a block at his feet following good work by Clive Platt and tipping over a stoppage-time header from Carroll.
The point saw both sides move up the League Two table, with Rochdale ending the night in second place and Bury jumping up three places to 15th.