Referee Nigel Miller was the centre of attention at Gigg Lane as he showed three straight red cards in what was far from an ill-tempered match but ultimately it was the promotion chasing Shakers that came out 1-0 winners after having picked up two of the red cards shown by the County Durham. Midfielder Damien Mozika was first to go for a lunging challenge on skipper John McGrath on the stroke of half time before Sam Winnall was dismissed to even up the numbers early in the second half for a challenge on Steven Schumacher.
Defender Lees finally broke the deadlock with thirteen minutes from time to keep the Shakers on course for promotion but the dismissal of fellow defender Efetobore Sodje for a swinging arm on Albion substitute Lewis Young will do his side no favours.
Albion deserved something from the game with the only crumb of comfort coming from the fact that despite defeat they remain outside of the bottom two byt the slender margin of one goal on goal difference.
After a horrendous journey to the outskirts of Manchester following a motorway pile up earlier in the afternoon the Brewers preparations for the game were far from ideal with a late arrival being met by a refusal from match referee Nigel Miller to delay the kick off.
Albion stuck with a 4-4-2 formation the Greg Pearson restored to the attack alongside Sam WInnall and Tony James recalled at the expense of Tom Parkes. Adam Bolder was rested to the bench allowing John McGrath to be partnered by Russell Penn in the centre with Jimmy Phillips recalled on the right side of midfield with Jacques Maghoma occupying the left wing berth.
Fortunately there was no sign of any travel lethargy from Albion as the game got underway on time and the opening exchanges were pretty even with neither side managing to mount a serious attack and threaten the opposition goal. Given their predicament at the foot of the League 2 table an incident free start to the game suited Albion well.
David Worrall's cross caused a momentary panic when he skipped past Andy Corbett down the right but Albion were able to clear the danger on the edge of their own penalty area and the Bury midfielder did his best to try and capitalise when Darren Moore headed the ball straight up in the air but Adam Legzdins was on hand to snatch the ball as Worrall's header looped towards hm.
Twenty five minutes in and with the home side having failed to seriosuly test Legzdins the fans started to get a bit restless and urge their team forwards. They almost had a half chance when Mike Jones' cross came off Moore's head to Worrall but forced away from goal his eventual cross was tame and of no danger to the Burton goal.
Albion won the first corner of the match after half an hour, perhaps symptomatic of the dearth of attacking chances, when McGrath's free kick deep to the far post was bundled behind.
Manchester United loanee Nicky Ajose finally got a sight of the Albion goal in the 32nd minute when Phil Picken's cross came back out to him but he could not keep his shot down much to the relief of Legzdins.
Albion quickly won another corner when Tom Lees backpass slipped under the foot of keeper Cameron Belford but the home defence got their colleagues out fo trouble by clearing the ball when it came into the Shakers six yard box.
The Brewers were agonnisingly close to taking the lead int eh 37th minute. Another corner, won by Pearson's persistence was swung in by McGrath and Pearson got up to head towards the top corner only to see Bury's top scorer, Ryan Lowe, heading off his own goal line with inches to spare.
Heartened, Albion quickly won a free kick thirty yards out and McGrath flashed the ball wide of the upright although Belford was always confident of the ball being off target.
Peter Sweeney found himself in referee Nigel Miller's notebook in the 40th minute for a foul on Russell Penn and again it offered Albion the chance to put the ball into Bury's box but the ball in evaded the head of Phillips and Efe Sodje at the back post.
Bury tried to rouse themselves before the half time break and another cross from Jones had Legzdins dropping low to his right inside the six yard box and the keeper had to make himself big to pluck Ajose's cross out of the air after he tricked his way along the bye line.
Albion were given further encouragement in the final minute of the half when Bury midfielder Damien Mozika was shown a straight red card for a two footed lunging tackle on Brewers skipper John McGrath.
It was the last action of a fairly tepid first half but Albion did not mind that in the slightest in their quest for vital League 2 points.
Half time: Bury 0-0 Burton Albion
Bury made a change at half time to try and compensate for the loss of Mozika. Influential former Crewe midfielder Steven Schumacher was brought on in place of the lively Worrall and the Shakers were almost gifted an opportunity immediately as Moore sliced a clearance into the air opnly for Andy Corbett to clear.
Albion had a good opportunity in the 48th minute as they stole possession and surged forward. McGrath played in Pearson on the right side of the penalty area but with the angle narrowing all the time the striker could not squeeze his shot past Belford, winning a corner for his efforts.
Fifty seven minutes in and Belford was called on to make another save from Pearson. Sam Winnall cleverly beat the offside flag as Bury tried to let the ball drift out of play. The Wolves kept the ball in and after exchanging passes with Maghoma drilled in a low cross that allowed Pearson to turn and fire a low shot against the legs of the keeper with Winnall lobbing the rebound just over the crossbar.
Referee Miller suddenly leveled up the numbers when he dismissed Sam WInnall in the 62nd minute. The ball seemed to just get away from the youngster and he dived in to try and win it back on the edge of the Bury box but ended up catching substitute Schumacher. Amid the cacophony from the home fans the referee produced the red card.
The mood of the home side lifted and they began to press forwards sensing their chance to snatch the lead but Albion resisted the initial onslaught.
The game began to open up with both sides reduced to ten and Mike Jones tried his luck in the 69th minute with an angled drive that went harmlessly wide of the goal.
Bury made their second change on seventy minutes with Jones the man to be replaced and Kyle Bennett introduced to try and break the stalemate.
Aaron Webster picked up a yellow card in the 75th minute as Bennett tried to scamper away towards the box, the Albion man bringing him down twenty five yards from goal. Schumacher thumped the free kick into the defensive wall but the ball went for a corner. It was heartbreak for Albion from the corner as Tom LEES rose highest in the six yard box to head powerfully home.
The response was to bring on Calvin Zola and Lewis Young to try and rescue the situation. The hard working Phillips and Pearson were the men sacrificed as Albion went in search of an equaliser.
Bury responded by bringing on former Lincoln frontman Lenell John-Lewis in place of Ajose.
Young was being used as a second striker up alongside Zola and the pair began to unsettle the home defence. Zola doing enough to create an opportunity for Penn but his effort was deflected through to Belford with enough pace taken off it to make it easy for the keeper.
Bury were then reduced to nine men in the 87th minute as Efe Sodje, the experience defender needlessly swung an arm at Young and receiving the third straight red of the game.
Richard Walker was thrown on for the last couple of minutes in place of skipper John McGrath and the experienced front man was not far away from latching onto Russ Penn's through ball in the final minute of normal time as Albion threw themselves forward in hope.
BURY: Belford, Picken, Skarz, Lees, Sweeney, Worrall (Schumacher, 46), Jones (Bennett, 70), Lowe, Sodje, Mozika, Ajose (John-Lewis, 81). Substitutes: Futcher, Haworth, Branagan, Eckersley.
ALBION: Legzdins; Corbett, James, Moore, Webster; Phillips, Penn, McGrath, Maghoma; Winnall, Pearson. Substitutes: Poole, Walker, Young, Dyer, Parkes, Bolder, Zola.
Referee: Mr. N.Miller (County Durham)
GOALS: Bury - Lees (76)
Attendance: 2,580 (115 away)