RYAN Lowe has urged Bury to show they belong in League One after seeing their Wembley dream dashed.

Tuesday’s Checkatrade Trophy semi-final saw the Shakers more than hold their own in the first half against a Portsmouth side challenging for promotion to the Championship.

But Pompey, FA Cup winners in 2008, scored three times after the break to leave Lowe’s men to focus on their league campaign.

Lowe feels his side have already shown they can compete at the next level and, with 12 games to go, hopes they can secure automatic promotion.

“I’m gutted, not just for me but for the lads and their families,” said the Bury boss. “We did everything we possibly could in this competition.

“At half time I was dreaming of Wembley because I thought we were going to get a goal, but we just fell a bit short.

“The scoreline flattered Portsmouth, it wasn’t a 3-0. But we knew they had quality and, for us now, we know that’s our level.

“That’s five League One teams we’ve played this season and I don’t think we looked out of shape against any of them. I’m 100-per-cent proud of the lads.But it’s gone now, we’ve missed out on the chance to go to Wembley, but we certainly won’t allow it to affect our form.”

After beating Oldham last weekend, Bury face another of their local rivals this Saturday as second-bottom Macclesfield come to Gigg Lane.

League Two leaders Lincoln are three points clear while second-placed Bury have a four-point buffer in the automatic promotion places.

“We want to get the disappointment out of our system straight away and our lads will,” Lowe added. “I’ve told them to come back to training with a smile on their face.

“We’ve got to move on. We concentrate on each game as it comes anyway and we’re ticking them off. We’ve got 12 to go now.

“Our attention has turned to Macclesfield and trying to continue our form in League Two to get where we want to get to.”