BURY’S humiliating 5-0 defeat at Shrewsbury called for a re-think on their travels and manager David Flitcroft obliged at Roots Hall on Saturday with a ruthless reshuffling of his pack.

The Shakers boss went back to basics, axing four of his attacking players then substituting captain Jim McNulty at half time.

The experienced centre-back was at fault for Southend’s first-half opener after being outmuscled by striker Barry Corr.

But his replacement Craig Jones headed in the equaliser with 19 minutes to play and Bury showed plenty of the resolve that has been lacking in recent games to withstand a late barrage and arrest a run of three consecutive away defeats.

Flitcroft believes his side’s spirited retort was a “small stride” in the right direction.

“I said to this group that their skipper today has not defended properly and given the goal away, but I told them to make sure he didn’t end up on the losing team and they have got that result for Nults,” he said.

“It was important we bounced back from the 5-0 defeat. There was a response from the team, a response from the club and we put in a real resolute performance.

“I do believe the 5-0 was a complete fluke but we have to get back by making small steps and we have made that first small stride here.”

Flitcroft switched formation from his favoured 3-4-3 to 4-5-1, replacing front three Ryan Lowe, Danny Rose and Nicky Adams with 19-year-old Everton loanee Courtney Duffus for his league debut.

Tom Kennedy was also flung straight into action at left-back after rejoining the club on loan from Rochdale on Thursday, the day before Duffus’s arrival.

Bury’s more combative approach served to stifle chances at both ends.

Southend striker Lee Barnard skied the first shot on goal from either side in the 10th minute before Michael Timlin curled a low free kick just wide.

Chris Sedgwick and Andrew Tutte added some welcome steel alongside Kelvin Etuhu in the middle of the park, but Duffus was left to plough a lonely furrow up front on his own.

He barely had a touch of the ball before being presented with the first clear-cut opportunity of the game on 32 minutes when a misplaced header from Shrimpers captain John White put him clean through.

The teenager was seemingly caught in two minds, passing up the chance to shoot before fluffing an attempt to round keeper Darren Bentley.

Corr made no mistake five minutes later when given a sight of goal, smashing in a volley from 10 yards after beating McNulty to a Timlin free kick.

Southend ended the half on top, with Corr missing a header at the back post.

But after Lowe and Jones were introduced for the second period, Bury wrestled back control of the game and were well worth their equaliser when Jones rose highest to finish off a looping Danny Mayor cross.

Minutes later, former Shaker David Worrall had what looked like a legitimate claim for a penalty waved away after going down in the box under a clumsy challenge from Kennedy, who admitted the decision could have gone either way.

“It was one of those 50-50 ones,” he said. “Me and Wazza spoke about it. I’ve sort of leaned on him and he’s gone down easy - he said he’s gone down easy.

“But I have leaned on him, so sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t.”

The apparent injustice triggered the home crowd into life, spurring on Southend to launch a late barrage that Bury did well to withstand, although Rose tested Bentley at the other end with a shot and header on the break.

“The whole momentum changed on that (penalty) incident,” added Kennedy.

“The crowd lifted them as they were getting on their backs a bit, but I always thought on the counter attack we had half a chance with just one more killer pass.

“It didn’t work out and some of the defending at the end by the boys was fantastic and gave us a well-deserved point.”

Despite the hard-earned draw, Bury dropped one place to fifth in the League Two table, three points behind new leaders Luton.

But Flitcroft is satisfied his side’s newfound resolve away from home will help them move back up into the automatic promotion places.

“I think the balance had been wrong,” he admitted.

“I don’t think I have had enough re-gainers in the team, players who naturally want to win the ball.

“At home is a different game, we have so much on the ball, so much more possession. Away from home we just needed a bit more resilience in the team.

“But we’ve got different options now and certainly today we have picked up a point from being more resilient.”

SOUTHEND: Bentley; Leonard, White, Prosser, Williams; Worrall, Deegan, Timlin, Atkinson (Payne 83); Barnard (Weston 66), Corr.

Not used: Smith, Hurst, Bolger, Coulthirst, Thompson.

BURY: Lainton 6; Cameron 6, Mills 7, McNulty 5 (Lowe 6 45), Kennedy 6; Soares 6, Etuhu 6, Sedgwick 6 (Jones 7 45), Tutte 7, Mayor 7; Duffus 6 (Rose 6 59).

Not used: Jalal, Adams, Thompson, Holmes.

Goals: Southend 1 (Corr 37) Bury 1 (Jones 71).

Yellow cards: Southend – Prosser 81, Williams 52, Worrall 74, Payne 84. Bury – Mills 84, Kennedy 90+1, Tutte 90+3.

Referee: Darren Drysdale.

Attendance: 5,174 (225 visiting).

Star man: Pablo Mills – The centre-back is better known for his ability to intercept a pass and bring the ball out of defence, but when called upon to mix it Mills never shies away from a fight. While his team-mates were wilting against Shrewsbury the experienced defender was notable as the only one pumping his fists, trying to rally the deflated troops. And he was again at the heart of the battle on Saturday. Mills had to be wrestled away from Michael Timlin at the final whistle as the red mist descended over the pair, but that spirit in the trenches was what Bury required and something manager David Flitcroft may have to call upon again before the season is out.