BURY boss Ryan Lowe was at a loss to explain how his side found themselves 3-0 down at half-time to local rivals Oldham.

The Shakers did manage to pull two goals back in the second half but by then the game was gone and they ended up on the wrong end of a 4-2 scoreline in what was new owner Steve Dale’s first game in charge.

Lowe was quick to apologise to the fans who made the short trip down the M60 hoping to see them close in on the top three in League Two.

But Chris O’Grady’s hat-trick and Sam Surridge’s strike meant those hopes were not to materialise.

Lowe said: “I really don't know where that first-half performance came from if I'm honest.

"We just weren't at it and of course we're all angry and disappointed.

"I want to apologise to the fans.

"They travelled here in their numbers and that just wasn't good enough from us.

"I just can't understand it. Training all week has been brilliant, the lads had all been bubbly and everyone was looking forward to it.

"We were up for it, but that first 10 minutes just wasn't us.

"It's something we're going to need to work on, we'll address this, but at least I got a reaction in the second half.”

Oldham struck the opening blow in the eighth minute, with the first chance either side had created.

A sweeping move down the Bury left culminated with Surridge crossing in superbly for the on-rushing O'Grady, and he volleyed home clinically past Joe Murphy from 10 yards.

The goal clearly sparked Frankie Bunn's men into life, and two minutes later they doubled their advantage.

The home fans were in dreamland when Surridge's looping header, from Gevaro Nepomuceno's cross, drifted over Murphy and into the far corner as the Bournemouth loanee notched his 10th of the season.

The Shakers were stunned by the double salvo, but they almost halved the deficit soon after when Oldham keeper Daniel Iversen dived full length to beat away Jay O'Shea's curling 25-yard free-kick.

Back came Oldham, and they were denied when Mohamed Maouche's goal-bound strike from 18 yards was blocked close to the line by Shakers' skipper Neil Danns.

It was 3-0 just past the hour mark, and again some questionable defending let Bury down.

Nepomuceno slid O'Grady easily in behind the Bury back-line, and the big striker coolly slotted home past Murphy again, this time from the edge of the box.

The Bury players were out onto the field five minutes before their hosts ahead of the restart, clearly fresh from a blast from Lowe, and that seems to pay dividends.

One of two half-time subs – Caolan Lavery – slotted home Nicky Adams' low cross barely a minute after replacing the ineffective Nicky Maynard.

When Lavery headed home Adams' cross in the 56th minute, it was 3-2, and now it was the Shakers fans' turn to crank up the volume.

But it was 4-2 after 62 minutes when O'Grady, who looked to have at least got in the way of keeper Murphy, bundled home following another Nepomuceno cross to complete his hat-trick.

Lowe added: “This has clearly been one to forget about quickly, but we're still on a decent run of results.

"We're fourth in the table after 22 games. I think if someone had given me that at the start of the season I'd have snatched their hand off.”