WANDERERS are in the hat for the second round of the Capital One Cup but only after being given a real scare by League Two Bury.
Ryan Lowe’s solitary first-half strike for the Shakers looked to have dumped out Dougie Freedman’s Championship side.
But former Wanderers academy stopper Rob Lainton – on as a second half substitute – handed the Whites a life-line after conceding an injury time penalty.
Craig Davies stood up after being brought down by Lainton to slam home a 97th-minute equaliser from the spot to take the match into extra time.
And Wanderers grasped the lifeline with both hands as Neil Danns’ powerful header was turned into his own net by Bury’s Chris Sedgwick in the third minute of extra-time before the Whites midfielder curled home a free-kick two minutes later.
David Flitcroft’s Shakers side were not to be brushed aside that easily, however, as their captain, Jim McNulty, headed home Nicky Adams’ free kick in the seventh minute of extra time to leave the tie on a knife edge. But Bury’s travelling army of 2,500 fans – in a crowd of just under 10,000 – were unable to spur their players on to what would have been a deserved comeback and the chance of a penalty shootout.
Instead it was Davies’ late leveller that proved decisive for a Wanderers team that featured just two players – Tim Ream and Darren Pratley – from the side that started Saturday’s dismal 3-0 defeat at Watford.
Freedman would have been hoping for a response, but his wholesale changes only seemed to unsettle a Wanderers outfit still smarting from warranted criticism.
The last time the derby rivals met, in 2002, a Bury side also in the bottom tier dumped Sam Allardyce’s Premier League outfit out of the League Cup in the second round stage.
Lainton looked to have helped them repeat the feat with a handful of stunning stops. And the home crowd certainly let the players know how they felt as the clocked ticked down to 90 minutes.
Only time will tell if a late rush of blood from the young keeper will erase the memory of a difficult night for Freedman.