TWO-goal Jake Speight was the hero of the hour for Bury as manager Chris Casper's decision to throw down the gauntlet to his underachieving squad paid dividends.

After two successive four goal defeats he threatened that some players might not play for the club again, and fortunately those words seemed to be heeded by his players.

The Bury boss rang the changes, some enforced, some not, with goalkeeper Neil Edwards and full-back Tom Kennedy out injured, midfielder Dwayne Mattis, suspended and striker Tom Youngs, dropped from the squad completely.

Into the starting line-up came on-loan Carlisle keeper Anthony Williams and young defender Andy Parrish, midfielder Dave Buchanan, while on-loan Sheffield United striker Colin Marrison partnered Allan Smart and Speight in a sturdy three-pronged attack.

On a poor surface, it soon became clear that flowing football would be virtually impossible and it was the visitors that opened the scoring with a set piece straight from the training ground

A huge throw-in on the right by Gulls' skipper James Sharp almost reached the far post and was met by fellow defender Adam Lockwood who headed past a stranded Williams.

After the collapse of the previous two matches, such an early setback might have spelled trouble for the home side but to their credit they knuckled down and stuck to their task.

Speight tested former Shakers' keeper Andy Marriott with an effort from 30 yards on the half hour then Dave Flitcroft, who was inspirational all afternoon, hit a strike from a similar range.

The game swung in Bury's favour with two goals in as many minutes and Flitcroft had a hand in both. An equaliser arrived after 40 minutes when Flitcroft's shot from just inside the box took a big deflection off Matt Hewlett and looped over the head of Marriott into the net.

Then, before Torquay had a chance to gather themselves, the Shakers took the lead when Flitcroft's right wing cross found Speight unmarked in the centre of goal and the Yorkshireman calmly headed home his first ever league goal from six yards.

The crucial third goal arrived four minutes after the restart. A poor clearance from Marriott was picked up in the centre of the park by Flitcroft, who sent Marrison away down the right.

The powerful youngster reached the edge of the box before drilling a fine ball across the face of goal where Speight steamed in from the left and powered into the roof of the net from a tight angle.

The visitors did reduce the deficit in the third minute of stoppage time when Kevin Hill smashed home a loose ball in the box - but it was too little too late for the Gulls who now travel to Premiership Birmingham City in an FA Cup third round replay at St Andrews on Tuesday evening.

Bury 3 Torquay United 2

BURY: Williams, Parrish, Challinor, Woodthorpe, Scott, Barry-Murphy, Flitcroft, Buchanan, Speight, Smart (Newby 76), Marrison.

Subs not used: Unsworth, Adams, Dootson and Tipton.

REF: Mr C. Boyeson (East Yorks)