OXFORD United’s fragile defensive run continued as three goals in eight minutes wrecked an hour’s hard graft against a Bury side who claimed their first win in 11 games.

The visitors had tweaked their style to become more compact, which led to an even game.

But from the moment Bury were awarded a soft penalty, converted by former United forward Chris Maguire, they collapsed to a third defeat in a row.

Jermaine Beckford made the second for strike partner Michael Smith, before quickly adding a third to make the game safe.

While United could point to feeling hard done by about the opening goal, what followed was concerning on the back of defeats against Walsall and Blackpool.

Alex Mowatt was handed a first start, while Josh Ruffels and James Henry returned as Pep Clotet made three changes from Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Walsall.

Bury had a trio of former U’s players in their squad, with Maguire and Phil Edwards starting, with Joe Skarz on the bench.

They all got a warm reception from the hardy travelling fans who had battled up the M6 on a Tuesday night.

They saw a side who had noticeablly gone back to basics after suffering successive defeats.

Fewer risks were taken on the ball in their own half and they played more long balls forward before the break than in the rest of the season altogether.

They had mixed success, but lone striker Gino van Kessel played with more purpose than he had on Saturday.

With Bury also getting the ball forward quickly, it made for a high tempo.

Both goalkeepers made smart early saves to keep the game goalless.

Simon Eastwood turned a Beckford effort from ten yards round the post after the veteran striker had got the better of Mike Williamson.

At the other end James Henry’s pass sliced open the Bury backline to find Rob Hall, whose low shot was well saved by Leonardo Fasan.

Neither side was able to gain the upper hand for long before the break, as the contest ebbed and flowed.

The bulky Smith hit the top of the crossbar with a curling shot from 25 yards midway through the half, only for United to hit back.

Fasan saved Van Kessel’s low shot from out wide, before the Italian made an even better stop to keep out Mowatt. Agonisingly, the rebound fell just out of Van Kessel’s reach.

As United’s confidence grew, they began to pass the ball more.

But it got them into trouble seven minutes before the break, when Curtis Nelson had to make a last-ditch block on Smith after Ryan Ledson had lost the ball on the halfway line.

Bury finished the half on top and the lively left wing back Greg Leigh laid on a terrific chance for Beckford eight yards out, only for the striker to let United off the hook with a scuffed effort.

The visitors started brightly after the break, with Hall and Van Kessel firing efforts wide to boost the away fans.

But all their hard work evaporated in a disastrous spell just after the hour.

It began with a disputed penalty decision, as Beckford tumbled between John Mousinho and Williamson.

Maguire calmly sent Eastwood the wrong way from 12 yards for his first goal of the season.

Clotet responded with a triple substitution, sending on Agon Mehmeti for his debut, along with Jack Payne and Joe Rothwell.

But in a flash, the rescue job became mission impossible.

Beckford’s run in the box was spotted and the striker’s cross to the near post was bundled in by Smith.

And the crumbling United defence conceded again two minutes later, when Beckford met Neil Danns’s cross with a towering header.

The chances kept coming as the U’s looked in vain for a way back into the game.

Eastwood saved well to deny Harry Bunn and Maguire to prevent a heavier defeat, but it did not disguise a worrying night.

Bury (3-5-2): Fasan, Edwards, Aldred, Whitmore, Humphrey (Bunn 85), Laurent, Reilly (Danns 54), Leigh, Maguire, Smith, Beckford.

Unused subs: Maloney, Williams, Dobre, Skarz, Ince.

Booked: Laurent, Edwards, Danns.

Oxford Utd (4-2-3-1): Eastwood, Mousinho, Williamson, Nelson, Ricardinho, Ledson (Rothwell 67), Ruffels, Hall, Mowatt (Payne 67), Henry, Van Kessel (Mehmeti 67).

Unused subs: Shearer, Carroll, Martin, Xemi.

Booked: Hall.

Referee: Ben Toner (Lancashire).

Attendance: 2,951 (287 visitors).