OXFORD 2, SHAKERS 1: Chris Casper's first game as caretaker manager of the Shakers ended in defeat, but it was not all doom and gloom at the Kassam Stadium.

There were plenty of plus points to be taken from a game that Bury bossed for long periods, and it was rough justice that the result should dump the club into bottom place in the Football League.

Casper made the bold decision to give debuts to two of his youth team proteges, Northern Ireland Under-19 midfielder Dave Buchanan and 17-year-old Bolton-born defender Andy Parrish, who in a whirlwind few days, went from a non-contract scholar to a first teamer.

Both repaid the faith in them with good displays and even after Parrish conceded a penalty for the home side's second goal, he refused to be fazed and enjoyed a fine second half display.

Crucially, two goals inside three minutes midway through the first half proved Bury's undoing.

The opener came just after the half hour when Eric Sabin played a ball inside for Craig Davies whose hopelessly mis-hit shot, fortunately, fell into the path of the incoming Lee Mansell who blasted home from close range.

Before the Shakers had a chance to regroup following that setback, the deficit stretched to two, Matt Robinson sent sprawling from a mis-timed challenge from youngster Parrish for a clear penalty. Former Manchester City ace Lee Bradbury made no mistake from the spot.

With first team strikers Jon Newby, Matthew Tipton and Allan Smart all missing, Simon Whaley linked with Stuart Barlow up front. Whaley came closest to finding the net for the visitors when a stinging drive from just inside the box was pushed round the post by Billy Turley.

Skipper Dave Challinor headed a Brian Barry-Murphy free kick wide just before the interval but half-time arrived with the home side still enjoying an undeserved two goal cushion.

The second period was pretty much one-way traffic with Bury giving the Oxford defence plenty to think about.

The Shakers were cruelly denied a blatant penalty after 55 minutes when Barlow was clearly tripped in the box by Mansell. Because the evergreen striker recovered enough to get a shot in that Turley pushed wide, referee Mr Lee, in his first Football League game, amazingly pointed for a corner kick.

A goal at that point could well have seen the Shakers take something out of the match and there was further bad luck when Dwayne Mattis connected with a Barry-Murphy corner kick but his header was pushed on to the post by Turley.

They did reduce the arrears eight minutes from time when sub Tom Kennedy got on the end of a Tom Youngs cross to fire home, but a leveller never materialised as the home sides defence held firm despite some desperate clearances.

"It's all right feeling sorry for ourselves but we have to start making our own luck," said Casper.

"We stuck to our game plan for the first half hour and gave ourselves a foothold in the game but one goal led to two."

BURY: Edwards, Scott, Challinor, Buchanan, Parrish, Sedgemore (Youngs 70), Flitcroft, Mattis, Whaley, Barlow, Barry-Murphy (Kennedy 58). Subs not used: Dootson, Woodthorpe, Hardiker.

REFEREE: Mr R. Lee (Essex)