WREXHAM surrendered a twogoal lead for the second match in a row at Gigg Lane last night and remain deep in trouble at the foot of the second division.
After going 2-0 up in the opening 20 minutes thanks to a Hector Sam double, they put up a tremendous defensive display. And they looked to have held on for a vital three points after being battered for the best part of 70 minutes in what was truly a six-pointer, but they cracked just four minutes before the end.
Having despaired at the number of chances missed against Swindon Town on Saturday, Dragons' manager Denis Smith must have been delighted with Sam's predatory instinct in front of goal.
Barely a minute had elapsed before the Trinidadian had put the visitors in front and he then added a coolly-taken penalty, despite having to wait more than two minutes for treatment to injured team-mate Michael Blackwood.
Sam's first goal was a superb individual effort after he picked up the ball on halfway and glided past two defenders before beating-Paddy Kenny with a low shot, but Wrexham were forced to defend, desperately at times, before extending their lead.
Norwegian debutant, Marius Rovde, twice did well, coming out to force Gareth Seddon wide before saving a Danny Swailes header.
On the break, Craig Faulconbridge was just inches away from connecting with Sam's low cross but it hardly seemed to matter when Blackwood intercepted a poor back pass from Lee Unsworth and was unceremoniously dumped to the ground by Kenny after 19 minutes.
Sam, who had upset Smith by taking - and scoring - a penalty at Carmarthen Town ahead of the nominated Steve Thomas, took responsibility again, following the Thomas miss at the weekend.
He waited patiently for Blackwood's repairs and, against the run of play it has to be said, converted the spot-kick with aplomb but Wrexham's comfort zone lasted a mere four minutes.
Carey was penalised five yards outside the area and George Clegg's curling free-kick appeared to be covered by Rovde until it struck a defender and spun away into the opposite corner of the net.
Bury continued to dominate the exchanges and Rovde came to Wrexham's rescue with a fine save after 35 minutes, arching backwards to tip a Swailes header over the crossbar as the visitors somehow managed to preserve their slender advantage to the break.
The pattern continued into the second half, with Bury doing most of the attacking and forcing their opponents to rely on the odd breakaway, which had brought them Sam's rewards and Jon Newby brought another competent save from Rovde, whose performance was not so much spectacular as solid and assured.
The bumpy, sodden pitch did neither side any favours, especially when the ball was held up and frustrated both sets of strikers, who were stretching the limits of the offside line whenever the opportunity arose.
And, given the importance to the two sides of the outcome, it was rarely pretty as Wrexham grimly did their best to defend the lead. Thomas and Martyn Chalk provided most of the midfield graft and grit and Darren Ferguson was always looking to play the killer pass forward to the willing Faulconbridge.
Both sides brought on fresh legs, Paul Reid replacing David Borley for the home side and Carlos Edwards being introduced for the battered and weary Blackwood, but there was no discernible change to the pattern and Bury should have equalised with 20 minutes left.
Former Racecourse striker, Andy Preece, now in charge at Gigg Lane, powered through before being half-stopped by Carey's challenge but, when the ball was driven back into the sixyard box, Unsworth somehow contrived to flick the ball the wrong side of the post.
In a rare moment of relief, Wrexham nearly caught out the home defence when Edwards broke from his own half but, instead of shooting, he picked out Sam, whose first-time shot was always veering away from the goal. Other promising breaks were cut short by too many offside decisions against Faulconbridge.
Thomas went close to sealing victory for the visitors four minutes from the end when he
pounced on a loose clearance but again his effort was offtarget and Rovde than excelled as Newby let fly from 15 yards. But from the subsequent corner, substitute Ian Lawson popped up from nowhere to head a long overdue equaliser, which cannoned into the net off the underside of the bar.
There was still time for Wrexham to come back but when Faulconbridge met a Ferguson corner, Kenny saved.
BURY: Kenny; Unsworth, Swailes, Collins, Hill; Forrest, Seddon, Borley (Reid 58), Clegg; Preece (Lawson 77), Newby. Subs: Evans, Connell, Nelson. WREXHAM: Rovde; Phillips, Lawrence, Carey, Holmes; Sam, Thomas, Ferguson Chalk (Barrett 71); Blackwood (Edwards 65), Faulconbridge. Subs: Russell, Rogers, Moody. BOOKINGS: Bury's Reid and Wrexham's Barrett. REFEREE: Mr J Brandwood (Lichfield). ATT: 2,735...SUPL: