RYAN Lowe viewed this cruel, late defeat as a microcosm of Bury’s season.

It has been an if-it-can-go-wrong-it-will-go-wrong kind of campaign, and that was certainly the case again at Walsall.

Bury finished the weekend knowing if AFC Wimbledon and Oldham won their home games on Tuesday and last night, respectively, it would be a mathematical fact that Gigg Lane would be staging League Two football next season.

In truth, few have really given the Shakers more than a fighting chance for months.

The rallying cries and positive messages emanating from Lowe have kept a semblance of hope alive since he took over the job on a caretaker basis following Chris Lucketti's disastrous brief spell in charge.

But a run of defeats of late has killed off those dreams of a great escape and most supporters are likely to just want this season to end and start looking ahead to what will hopefully be a season operating in the upper regions of League Two next season.

It has been a horrible season to be a Bury fan, and Saturday was no different as the travelling supporters saw their team suffer a sixth straight defeat in the most heart-breaking of fashions.

Lowe's men deserved at least a point, probably three. But, as so often happens to sides at the bottom, they got nothing.

And the way they lost made it even harder to bear – an own goal in the 89th minute. Cruel.

Bury spurned several second-half chances to win the match before Thompson headed into his own net, leaving the Shakers 13 points off safety with only 15 left to play for..

And Lowe was left to reflect on an eight-day spell that also saw an 85th-minute penalty consign the Shakers to defeat at Bristol Rovers, followed by a 2-0 defeat at home to Rochdale.

“That 100 per cent sums up our season,” said a despondent Lowe. “When the luck is not with you, it’s not with you and an 89th-minute own goal is tough to take.

“I have to give the lads a bit of credit for the reaction I got from them and the football that we played. It’s been a horrible week but they gave it their all out there for us.

“But both boxes win you games and we’ve said that many a time. A lack of quality and a lack of decision-making has cost us as we have had enough chances to win that game 2-0 or 3-0.

“And then a ball comes into our box, it could go anywhere but it goes into the bottom corner and it’s an own goal. Thommo has been magnificent all game and didn’t deserve that.”

Lowe followed through on his threat to make big changes from the midweek defeat to fellow strugglers Rochdale, making five switches to his starting line-up.

In came veteran keeper Joe Murphy, Phil Edwards, Rohan Ince, James Hanson and Harry Bunn as Connor Ripley, Joe Skarz, Andrew Tutte, Danny Mayor and George Miller all made way.

Bury almost enjoyed a dream start as Callum Styles’ near-post third-minute corner was met by a glancing header from Thompson that Walsall keeper Liam Roberts did well to push clear.

Murphy saved well from a Justin Shaibu snapshot on 29 minutes but he was left relieved four minutes before the break when Kieron Morris cleverly worked space to roll a shot inches wide.

Bury began brightly after the break and the lively Neil Danns whipped in a fine 47th-minute cross that Hanson met with a bullet header from 15 yards but it flew wide.

They really should have taken the lead a minute later as Zeli Ismail’s drag-back left two Walsall players on their backsides and he teed up Ryan Cooney who missed his kick eight yards out.

In the next attack, Bury went close again as Ismail let rip with an 18-yard shot only to be denied by a superb one-handed save from Roberts.

Lowe’s men had a let-off on 55 minutes as Saddlers substitute Julien Ngoy pounced on a mix-up between Danns and Cooney to surge into the area but Murphy raced off his line to block well.

Roberts saved well from a Danns snapshot and Bury came the closest yet on 61 minutes as Hanson met Ismail’s teasing cross with a glancing header that drifted agonisingly past the far post.

Walsall finished strongly as Amadou Bakayoko’s close-range header from a corner was scrambled off the line before Bury were beaten in heart-breaking fashion when the otherwise-excellent Thompson headed Luke Leahy’s dangerous cross past his own keeper.

It was the missed chances that left Lowe most frustrated.

He added: “We had 10 chances, five on target, but my biggest gripe is not putting the ball in the net. People say ‘unlucky’ but it’s not unlucky.

“You’ve got to put the ball in the back of the net – it’s what you are paid to do. And we haven’t done it over the course of the season since we lost Jermaine Beckford. Goals win you games and we haven’t got goals in us at the moment.”