They failed to complete a league double over Bury after a goalless stalemate at Gigg Lane where Rory McArdle left the field with his left arm in a ‘sling’ in stoppage time after City had used all their substitutes.
Manager Phil Parkinson made just one change from the side which had lost to bottom of the table Colchester.
Central defender Reece Burke recovered from a twisted ankle and replaced Nathan Clarke, joining fellow West Ham loanee Josh Cullen in the City side. Up front, James Hanson partnered Birmingham loanee Wes Thomas, who had recovered from groin trouble sustained in midweek.
Bury’s bench included Sheffield Wednesday’s Sean Clare, signed on a youth loan until the end of the season, plus Gargrave-born striker Rob Harker, who celebrates his 16th birthday on Sunday.
This was the fourth meeting between the sides this season, City winning the league game at Valley Parade but losing the home FA Cup replay between the sides on penalties after a goalless draw at Gigg Lane.
Ben Williams pulled off an early full-length save from Bury’s Danny Pugh and Lee Evans sent a powerful header narrowly wide from Tony McMahon’s free-kick at the other end but chances were few and far between for the remainder of the half.
City thought they should have had a penalty when Reece Brown, who already been booked, appeared to push Hanson but their claims were rejected.
The goalless first period ended with Bury duo central defender Peter Clarke and the dangerous Danny Mayor both limping from knocks. Both appeared for the restart.
City made a strong start to the second period without troubling goalkeeper Ian Lawlor and Andrew Tutte curled a free-kick over the bar at the other following a booking for Cullen.
Thomas headed over from Kyel Reid’s cross as City sought a breakthrough while guarding against Bury’s counter-attacks.
Lawlor was finally called into action when he tipped over a flick header from Thomas from Evans’s free-kick and Hanson hooked wide from Rory McArdle’s head down from the second of successive corners.
Young Clare made his debut in the 73rd minute, replacing John O’Sullivan.
Ryan Lowe smashed a shot against the bar but City were awarded a free-kick for a shove on McArdle.
Mark Marshall replaced Reid as City looked to conjure a winner, also bringing on Jamie Proctor and Billy Clarke for Hanson and Thomas in adouble substitution in the 89th minute.
City then lost McArdle as he landed awkwardly after clearing the danger.
Parkinson said: “We looked strong and solid and that’s what you’ve got to build your base from. It’s a tough place to come and we’ll take the point.
“The pitch was very difficult. The groundsman has done well to get it on but it was very heavy.
“But I thought we got better as the game wore on. We started a bit tentatively possibly because of the defeat on Tuesday but the shape of the team was loads better.”
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