BURY were hit by a late sucker-punch at Sheffield United as they were defeated by an Ethan Ebanks-Landell goal deep into added time.

The nine-man Shakers, who had Jacob Mellis and Greg Leigh sent off, defended heroically in one of the best defensive performances of the season. With shape, structure and bravery, it look as though they would cling on for a massive point and end a barren run of eight straight defeats.

But three minutes from time the cruel blow was struck with extends the losing run to a club-record nine games – but there were plenty of positive to pick from this magnificent performance.

Caretaker manager Chris Brass welcomed right-back Craig Jones back into the side for the first time in two months after he recovered from a thigh injury to replace the suspended Niall Maher.

Striker Tom Pope returned to the starting XI after a six-week lay off with a rib injury and Scott Burgess was handed his first start of the season. Hallam Hope and Andrew Tutte dropped to the bench.

Bury set up in a 4-4-2 formation and their two banks of four set up deep to try and thrust the razor sharp Blades attack.

It was a real back to the walls start for the Shakers as Billy Sharp shot over from just inside the six yard box before Paul Coutts tested Ben Williams from 25-yards out – the keeper gathered at the second attempt.

The best chance of the first half fell to marauding wing-back Daniel Lafferty and he arrived unmarked to meet Sharp's cross but he could not keep his header down.

The Shakers were having to withstand heavy pressure, particularly from crosses coming from out wide, but they looked more organised and structured than recent weeks, dealing relatively comfortably with the majority.

The defensive masterclass was going so well until a moment of madness from Mellis reduced the Shakers down to 10 men.

The midfielder flew into a sliding tackle on Done on the stroke of half-time which left referee Ross Joyce no option but to issue him a straight red card.

Brass had to re-jig his side at the break and introduced Kelvin Etuhu to shore up the midfield in the absence of Mellis. Pope made way.

After half-time Greg Leigh ventured forwards and with no options available attempted a 30-yard spectacular pile-driver which flew agonisingly wide of the top corner.

Williams booked for time wasting midway through the half before Leigh pulled off a superb goal-line clearance to deny former Shaker Leon Clarke.

The pressure continued but the Bury defence gave it everything they had to hold on. Former Shaker had a goal ruled out for a foul in the build up and Leigh was sent off five minutes from time for picking up a second yellow card – his first was for time wasting, his second a late foul.

Skipper Kay then produced one of the best clearances of the season following Williams' stunning save but three minutes into added time Ebanks-Landell side-footed home to wrap up the win for the Blades.