CALLUM O'Dowda netted late on to deliver a priceless victory for Oxford United against in-form Bury.

The hosts played for almost half an hour with ten men after Adam El-Abd was sent off for two bookable offences.

United's best chance to win the game appeared to have gone when Danny Hylton had a penalty well saved by Nick Pope.

But five minutes from the end of normal time O'Dowda, on as a substitute, showed impressive composure to round the goalkeeper and score.

The result eased the pressure on the side and extended United's advantage over the bottom two to eight points - as wide as it has been all season.

Kemar Roofe came into the side for O'Dowda in the only change to the XI from Tuesday night's 1-1 draw with Morecambe.

The loanee from West Brom had the first sight of goal when the ball fell his way 25 yards out.

His shot skidded wide of Nick Pope's right-hand post, but showed an intent which was lacking in midweek.

Bury began the game as the division's form side after winning their previous four games to move within sight of the automatic promotion places.

But David Flitcroft's men struggled to create chances in open play as United defended well before the break.

Bury's best moments all came from the boot of Chris Hussey, who took the majority of their set pieces.

The left back came close on 13 minutes, when he landed a free-kick on the roof of the net.

At the other end, Bury's back four looked vulnerable when they were put under pressure.

The problem for United was they were unable to exploit the situation often enough.

Patrick Hoban, who held the ball up well, had a weak header saved, while Danny Hylton appealed for a handball in the area when his cross was blocked.

Referee Kevin Johnson waved away the appeals and before long he was at the centre of attention.

The official had booked El-Abd and Alex MacDonald early on, but then did not punish similar offences.

On 27 minutes the home side howled for a red card when MacDonald dived in on ex-United loanee Joe Riley.

Johnson gave Bury the advantage, but when play stopped he gave the winger a final warning.

He also decided to just have a word with Hylton, one booking away from a two-game ban, after the forward caught a defender with a high arm.

United's top scorer had the clearest chance of the half on 31 minutes, when he pounced on a weak backpass from El-Abd.

Hylton was briefly through one-on-one with Pope, but delayed long enough to allow Bury to reorganise defensively.

It was a good chance and the last United forged before the break.

Bury's fans were underwhelmed with the first half, but were encouraged by a bright start their side made after the break.

Within a minute of the restart Danny Rose shot over after Andrew Tutte's shot took a deflection into the striker's path.

An even better chance swiftly followed, after Michael Collins was dispossessed in the Bury half.

Nicky Adams countered rapidly down the right and crossed for Rose to nod down for Kelvin Etuhu, whose shot was bravely blocked by Clarke.

The goalkeeper needed treatment after the collision, but fortunately his head cleared in time to make an even better save just after the hour mark.

An in-swinging cross was headed goalwards by Rose from close range, but somehow Clarke managed to divert the ball over the crossbar.

Sensing an opportunity, Shakers boss David Flitcroft made an attacking change by withdrawing Etuhu and throwing on a second striker, Ryan Lowe.

But the hosts were quickly forced into a reshuffle after El-Abd received his second booking for a lunge on Roofe.

Jimmy McNulty was brought on for Rose in an attempt to shore things up, only for the substitute to promptly concede a penalty.

Hylton, who was fouled in the box, stepped up but after a long delay his shot was kept out by Pope, diving to his right.

There was still 20 minutes to play and with the man advantage United began to find space on the ball.

One attack saw them have a three-on-three chance, but O'Dowda's cross was sliced by a defender just out of Roofe's reach.

Hoban also tested Pope with a low shot after turning sharply on the edge of the box.

The Irishman turned provider five minutes from time, slipping O'Dowda clear.

The Kidlington teenager raced clear and coolly rounded the advancing Pope before sliding a shot into the empty net.

United's joy was quickly tempered slightly as Hylton picked up a booking which will incur a suspension.

It was part of a bad tempered finish, but the visitors kept their heads to claim a crucial result.

Bury: Pope, Riley, Cameron, El-Abd, Hussey, Etuhu (Lowe 63), Adams (Jones 72), Tutte, Soares, Mayor, Rose (McNulty 65).

Unused subs: Lainton, Sedgwick, O’Brien, Dudley.

Oxford Utd: Clarke, Baldock, Mullins, Wright, Skarz, Roofe, Collins, Ruffels, MacDonald (O'Dowda ht), Hylton (Roberts 90), Hoban.

Unused subs: Ashdown, Dunkley, Long, Rose, Gnanduillet.

Referee: Kevin Johnson (Somerset).

Attendance: 3,645 (316 visitors).