BURY were denied the chance to move top of the League Two table after being held to a frustrating 1-1 draw at Cheltenham Town.

The Shakers took an early lead through Scott Wharton’s header, but it was cancelled out by Billy Waters’ strike in the 33rd minute and they could not find a winner.

Ryan Lowe’s side made a purposeful start in wet conditions at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium, taking a deserved lead in the 13th minute.

Jay O’Shea’s fine cross was nodded in from close range by Blackburn Rovers loanee Wharton for his second goal in four days.

The Shakers had already seen an effort from O’Shea cleared off the line by Ben Tozer after good work from Danny Mayor.

Byron Moore slammed a shot into the side netting and Scott Flinders saved well to deny Dominic Telford from almost point-blank range.

Cheltenham threatened once on the break, with Billy Waters losing his footing in the box after a determined run from Kevin Dawson.

But after opening the scoring, Bury enjoyed a period of dominance and they will wonder how they failed to add a second.

Moore curled another attempt past the far post and a shot from Telford was deflected wide for a corner after more magic from Mayor, who had managed to run off an earlier knock.

Flinders had to push a cross from Nicky Adams out from under the bar, but after spurning several clearcut chances to extend their lead, Bury were then made to do some defending of their own.

A long throw from Tozer came off Eoghan O’Connell and only the bar prevented the central defender from scoring an own goal.

Joe Murphy then saved well from Waters after a pass forward from Jordan Tillson.

Cheltenham improved from their slow start and drew level in the 33rd minute.

A free-kick delivery from Chris Clements caused real problems for the Bury defence and Charlie Raglan found Waters, who scooped the ball in to make it 1-1.

O’Connell went down under a challenge in the box in the 43rd minute, but referee Paul Tierney waved away the Shakers’ penalty appeals.

A long-range strike from Tillson was safely gathered by Murphy before Flinders kept out another attempt from Mayor as an entertaining half ended all-square.

Bury had the first serious chance of the second period, a short corner creating a shooting chance for O'Shea on the edge of the box with which he narrowly cleared the bar in the 54th minute.

Callum McFadzean hit the side netting from a tight angle in the 59th minute and boss Lowe sent on 18-goal Nicky Maynard in the 66th minute, with Telford making way.

Caolan Lavery also went on, replacing Moore, and Bury did all the attacking, but Cheltenham defended solidly.

Maynard had the ball in the net in the 81st minute, but he was offside and Bury could not capitalise as they stay second in the table ahead of Saturday’s trip to Stevenage.

Teams and ratings

Cheltenham Town (3-5-2): Flinders 7; Raglan 7, Tozer 7, Boyle 6; Broom 6, Clements 6 (Thomas 76 6), Tillson 7, Dawson 7 (Maddox 85 6), Pring 6; Waters 8, Barnett 7 (Varney 76 6). Subs not used: Lovett, Bingham, Forster, Maddox, Long.

Bury (3-5-2): Murphy 7; O'Connell 7, Thompson 6, Wharton 7; Adams 7 (Cooney 85 6), Rossiter 6, O'Shea 7, Mayor 8, McFadzean 6; Moore 6 (Lavery 76 6), Telford 6 (Maynard 66 6). Subs not used: Aimson, Omotayo, Danns, Maloney.

Referee: Paul Tierney.

Attendance: 2,409 (317 away).