INSPIRATIONAL skipper Stephen Dawson set Bury on their way to a crucial victory on Saturday – and then hinted he could still sign a new contract with the club.

The Irish midfielder, who opened the scoring on nine minutes at Dean Court, is out of contract in the summer and turned down a new deal just before Christmas.

But, after a tireless display on the South Coast helped his team to three points against their promotion rivals, Dawson admitted he is still open to the idea of staying at Gigg Lane and hopes he can achieve his ambitions of playing at a higher level with his current employers.

“I have never said I wanted to leave the club,” said the 24-year-old.

“I have an awful lot of time for the gaffer, the players and the fans - they mean a lot to me.

“I do want to play higher, but I have never said I don't think Bury aren't good enough to go up. I do think that we are.

“I wasn't ready to sign at the time, but it doesn't mean that I won't be ready in two months time.

“It's not about money, it's always been my ambition to play higher and that is the dream I have.

“If I am not good enough, I will hold my hands up, but I want to test myself higher.

“And if we at Bury keep performing the way we can do, we will be in League One next season.”

Dawson covered every blade of grass on Saturday in a display that underlined his sheer commitment to the cause.

He put Bury ahead when he latched on to a glorious throughball from Andy Morrell before picking his spot perfectly for his fourth goal of the season.

But the second-placed Cherries would have been back on level terms soon after if it was not for a superb save from Bury keeper Wayne Brown.

Liam Feeney sent in a teasing cross from the right and Jeff Goulding's header had goal written all over it until Brown somehow produced a stop right from the top drawer.

That save took on added significance when David Worrall skipped past the challenge of Warren Cummings on the edge of the area and buried a shot past Shwan Jalal to send Alan Knill's men into the break two goals ahead.

Chances were few and far between in the early stages of the second half as Bury looked to preserve their superiority.

Ben Futcher forced a save from Jalal with a header from a corner but the hosts were struggling to worry the Shakers at the other end.

When they were presented with a chance, substitute Steve Fletcher fired well wide from the edge of the area.

However, Eddie Howe's men were slowly getting into the contest and Feeney warmed the palms of Brown with a stinging shot.

Substitute Richie Baker should have put the game to bed in the dying stages when he shot wide after being put clean through on goal, before Brett Pitman's finish deep into stoppage time ensured a nervy end to the game.

But Bury held on for another impressive victory that maintains their status as having the best away record in League Two.

If they can produce similar results at home, where they have six of their next eight games, starting with the visit of Bradford on Tuesday, their promotion push will really gather some momentum heading into the business end of the season.

BOURNEMOUTH: Jalal 6, Robinson 6, Garry 6, Pearce 7, Cummings 6 (Connell 90), Igoe 7 (McQoid 6, 55), Hollands 6, Bradbury 6, Pitman 6, Goulding 6 (Fletcher 7, 55), Feeney 7. Subs not used: Guyett, Bartley, Connell, Partington, Thomas.

BURY: Brown 8, Scott 7, Futcher 8, Sodje 7, Buchanan 7, Worrall 7 (Racchi 6, 71), Dawson 8, Barry-Murphy 8, Jones 7, Lowe 7, Morrell 7 (Baker 6, 69). Subs not used: Belford, Newey, McCarthy.

Attendance: 4,516

Referee: Grant Hegley (Herts)