SHOT-SHY Bury were handed a harsh lesson in finishing by former Premier League striker Barry Hayles as their spectacular fall from grace took stooped to a new low on Saturday.

Without a goal in more than 570 minutes of football at Gigg Lane, the Shakers slumped to their fifth home defeat of the season in a game they should have had wrapped up well before Hayles' 94th minute bolt from the blue.

Ryan Lowe, Andy Bishop, Stephen Dawson and Paul Scott all had chances to stop the rot for Bury and they were made to pay when Cheltenham snatched all three points at the end.

The Shakers' performance was a major improvement on the dire showing in last week's 2-0 defeat to Accrington, but manager Alan Knill was still left seething at his side's inability to make their superiority count.

“The performance counts for nothing,” said Knill. “We are all judged on how many points we get and, at the moment, we are pretty poor.

“We had great chances, but we have got to take them.

“We have to be careful not to say well played because it wasn't good enough.

“If you want a career you have to win games, so it's easy to say well played but it's not about that. It's about winning.

“Until you have that mentality you have to see games out and we didn't do that again.

“It was a great finish, but it just sums up the fact that whenever we make a mistake we get punished.”

The home side were the quickest out of the blocks, and dictated play for most of the game with David Worrall and Bishop going close in the opening stages.

And Bury should have gone into the lead on the half-hour mark when Bishop's flick found strike partner Lowe, who lifted the ball over the onrushing keeper only to see it hit the crossbar and go over.

Justin Richards and Hayles ensured it wasn't all one way traffic with chances of their own, but Dawson thought he had broken the deadlock when he swiveled and volleyed narrowly over.

Lowe brought a fine second half save from Scott Brown when he latched on to a mistake, but saw his powerful shot beaten away.

It looked like it might not be Bury's day when Scott's header from Michael Jones' corner was cleared off the line with just two minutes remaining, and the nerves started seeping from the stands on to the pitch.

Conscious of their last outing when two late goals condemned them to defeat against Accrington, mistakes started to creep into their play and they were punished in the cruelest of fashions in the fourth minute of time added on.

Dawson gave the ball away in midfield and it was fed to former Fulham striker Hayles, who outstripped Ryan Cresswell and curled in a shot from the tightest of angles.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for Bury and their visit to Port Vale on Saturday now takes on added importance.

BURY: Brown 7, Scott 7, Cresswell 7, Sodje 7, Newey 7, Worrall 7 (Jones 6, 68), Dawson 7, Barry-Murphy 7, Baker 7 (Racchi 6, 80), Bishop 6, Lowe 7. Subs not used: Buchanan, Belford, Rouse, Thompson.

CHELTENHAM: Brown 7, Bird 6, Ridley 6, Townsend 6, Diallo 7, Gallinagh 7, Richards 7, Watkins 5 (Low 6, 46), Artus 6 (Hammond 6, 62), Hayles 7, Alsop 6 (Hutton 6, 51). Subs not used: Richardson, Cox, Lewis, Denton.

Attendance: 2,130 (136 Cheltenham fans)

Referee: S Rushton (Staffs)