Brad Inman marked his return from injury with a well struck late goal at Gigg Lane but the Alex had to settle for a point after Bury were awarded a stoppage time penalty that Andy Bishop dispatched with real confidence.
The club’s on-loan Newcastle midfielder leapt off the substitutes’ bench to collect a pass from Chuks Aneke and fire past Cameron Belford from the edge of the Bury box. It was another trademark goal from the popular Aussie and it looked to be the winning moment until Bishop's late strike from the spot.
Crewe had originally taken the lead after 27 minutes with a superbly taken finish from young Max Clayton. He confidently dispatched his shot into the bottom corner after full-back Mellor had cleverly found him inside a crowded penalty area.
A spirited Bury side certainly deserved to be level well before Tom Soares scrambled home a loose ball five minutes into the second half, but the introduction of the three fresh substitutes from Steve Davis paid dividends with Inman hitting an 83th minute goal that looked to be the winner on the day, only for Matt Tootle to be penalised for a clumsy challenge on Steven Schumacher and Bishop kept calm to give the Shakers a deserved point.
Steve Davis made four changes to the Crewe Alexandra side that lost 2-0 to Crawley on Tuesday night. The injured Gregor Robertson, Nathan Ellington and Byron Moore didn’t feature and young Oliver Turton was back on the substitutes’ bench for the trip to Gigg Lane. In came Matt Tootle, Max Clayton, Mathias Pogba and Michael West.
The club’s new loan signing from Tottenham, Kevin Stewart, was in the travelling party, as was a fit-again Brad Inman and young Liam Nolan.
The Shakers also had three ex-Crewe players in their starting line-up with the former Nigerian International Efe Sodje, and midfielders Mark Carrington and Steven Schumacher all in Kevin Blackwell’s side.
The home side conjured up the first effort on target after five minutes after our former player Steve Schumacher swung a ball out to the Crewe right. David Worrall provided the cross into the path of Nicky Ajose but he shot rather tamely at Steve Phillips.
Crewe were producing some nice passing moves to advance into the Bury half of the pitch but the promise just lacked that final quality pass or cross. Cameron Belford in the Bury goal was called upon to catch an early looping cross from Kelvin Mellor, but in the early exchanges it was Bury imposing themselves in and around our box than us to theirs.
Andy Bishop did have the ball in the net but was miles offside and knew it. Tom Soares perhaps should have shot instead of passing to Ajose after he parted the Crewe defence with a forceful run.
On 17 minutes, Schumacher hit a well struck free-kick from 25 yards that Phillips did well to push out but with a red shirt not in close enough proximity to the rebound, Sodje lashed wildly high and wide. It was Bury certainly asking all the questions in an attacking sense. It was certainly an intriguing physical battle between Ellis and Davis and Bury’s front two of Bishop and Fagan.
Crewe’s tidy passing though finally paid off in the 27th minute with what was our first shot on target. Clayton was involved in the initial build up as we moved the ball in and around the Bury box, and Pogba found the advanced Mellor inside the Bury left hand channel. The full-back kept his composure to roll the ball back into the path of Max Clayton and his instant finish inside a crowded area was of the highest class. It was the England’s Youth International’s seventh goal of the campaign and was reward for the way he had played throughout with his link up play.
Soares was booked for a foul on Colclough as he started to embark on an encouraging run before Bishop nodded wide, with his effort covered by Phillips.
A minute later, Phillips produced another stunning save to deny Nicky Ajose from close range. The Alex goalkeeper showed quick reflexes again to get down and get a strong hand onto the shot.
Two minutes before the half time interval, an almost identical move saw a stumbling Pogba find Mellor again in behind the Bury back line and his pull back into Clayton was again accurate, but on this occasion the youngster snatched at it a bit and Belford made a comfortable save.
In first half stoppage time, the Bury captain Schumacher drilled a shot into the gloves of Phillips from the edge of the box.
Michael West began the second half by drilling an early free-kick into the mid-drift of Belford. Five minutes in and Abdul Osman needed attention after being caught by Bishop as he played the ball at a stretch. After treatment, the stand-in captain was able to continue. Soon after Osman was caught again, this time by Schumacher and the Bury captain was cautioned.
Bury hit back just before the hour mark after a mass scramble in front of Steve Phillips goal. Schumacher kept the ball alive after Bishop had headed the ball back across goal and after Ajose had seen his shot blocked by Phillips, Tom Soares scrambled it home.
The equalising goal ignited the home crowd and Tootle had to produce a last ditch tackle to prevent Schumacher going through.
The first change of the afternoon saw Ajose make way for Johnson Clarke-Harris. Moments later, Pogba looped a header up and into the grasp of Belford. At the other end, Ellis and Davis continued to head and volley balls’ from our box.
From a Mellor throw-in, an off balanced West could only steer his volley wide of the mark, before Sodje was booked for a foul on Leitch-Smith. From the resultant free-kick, the ball dropped to Leitch-Smith who quickly flick it into Pogba and his snapshot was brilliantly tipped behind for a corner.
Crewe continued to enjoy the better of the possession and with 17 minutes remaining, Davis made a trio of changes with Inman, Turton and Aneke replacing Leitch-Smith, West and Colclough.
Before the substitutes had time to settle into the game, Soares thought he had given Bury the led after he had set himself up for a curler into the final corner, but Phillips read his intentions to produce a superb tip around the post.
Aneke was soon into the game with his passing range and one splendid through ball should been collected cleanly by Pogba so he could race onto the Bury goal, but the ball got a little tangle under his feet and a good chance was lost.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, Bishop collected a cross from Fagan and laid the ball off to Schumacher but again he could only direct his shot straight at the well positioned Phillips.
The substitutes’ combined superbly to retake the lead with seven minutes left on the clock. Turton found Aneke on the edge of the Bury box and instead of having a shot himself, he rolled the ball across to Inman and he thumped it past Belford to register his return to the side with his 7th goal of the season.
The goal prompted a quick change from the Bury manager with David Healy replacing Soares. Aneke then fed Inman through the middle again and you would have backed the midfielder to have made it 3-1 but credit to Belford who made a good save to deny him.
Bury huffed and puffed but never really looked like breaking down a tight Alex defence. Crewe looked like they were going to hang on for the three points until Tootle was penalised for a stoppage time foul on Schumacher and referee Craig Pawson pointed to the spot. With virtually the last kick of the game, Bishop kept his nerve to thump his spot kick past Phillips.