Barnsley were held to their first draw of 2016 as they couldn’t break down a stubborn Bury defence at Gigg Lane.
The Reds’ chase for a League One play-off place remains well and truly on, but they missed a host of presentable chances against former boss Dave Flitcroft’s Shakers.
They were further hindered by a deserved late red card for talisman Adam Hammill, who was punished for an ugly-looking challenge on ex-Red Danny Rose and will now miss three crucial games through suspension.
Reds’ caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom had made two changes to his starting line-up for the re-arranged trip across the Pennines. Aidy White sustained a nasty ankle injury in the win against Doncaster, so his place at left-back was taken by George Williams. In midfield, Josh Brownhill was dropped to the bench in favour of Josh Scowen.
Once the game got under way it was one-way traffic in the opening 10 minutes.
The Reds went close on three separate occasions, the first courtesy of Alfie Mawson, whose piledriver was blocked by Peter Clarke. Conor Hourihane blazed a shot wildly over, while Lloyd Isgrove was thwarted by a smart save from Ian Lawlor.
The visitors ought to have taken the lead in the 19th minute.
Hammill’s in-swinging corner wasn’t cleared, but as the ball dropped kindly for Sam Winnall barely six yards out, the Reds’ top scorer struck a volley inches over the top.
Bury just couldn’t find a way through to Adam Davies’s well-guarded goal. Heckingbottom’s men were defending stoutly, but they still couldn’t find a goal either.
The next to threaten for the Reds was Scowen, whose arrowing strike towards the top corner was brilliantly tipped over the crossbar by the flying Lawlor.
It remained goalless at the break, with the hosts not having produced an effort on target throughout a period the Reds had dominated.
Incredibly, Bury clocked their first attempt on target in the opening seconds of the second half, but Craig Jones’ header lacked power and Davies collected easily. In fact the Shakers appeared re-invigorated in the early stages of the second period, with Tom Pope seeing a goal-bound header blocked by Mawson.
Davies was called into the action in the 55th minute. Bury’s hat-trick hero at the weekend - Andrew Tutte - crossed in for Danny Mayor, but his header was saved.
The Reds created their first real chance of the second half just before the hour mark. Lawlor again got in the way of goal, however, as the home ‘keeper brilliantly palmed away Winnall’s header as he met Hammill’s pinpoint cross.
Hammill himself kept Lawlor busy in the 64th minute, forcing his opponent into a sharp stop from an acute-angled drive.
As the Reds began to boss the closing stages, they were reduced in numbers in the 83rd minute when Hammill saw red for an ugly, studs-up challenge on sub Rose - before the game petered out somewhat.