OXFORD United let a victory slip through their fingers as rock-bottom Bury scored twice in three minutes to end an eight-game losing run.

The Shakers had not scored for more than 12 hours of football in Sky Bet League One and looked to be heading for another fruitless afternoon.

James Henry’s close-range finish late in the first half put United in front and set them on the way to a third successive home victory.

Although they rarely looked like adding to the lead, the home side looked relatively comfortable defensively.

But in a flash the game was turned on its head, as substitutes George Miller and Harry Bunn took advantage of some poor defending to claim victory.

For United it was a dreadful result which should have been avoidable and now means they are as close to the relegation zone as the top-six.

Isaac Buckley-Ricketts came in for his debut, replacing the recalled Jack Payne, while Agon Mehmeti was handed a first league start after Wes Thomas was ruled out with a hamstring injury.

The striker had a clear opening to get United off to a perfect start, as Henry’s pass sent him through in the third minute.

But Mehmeti was hesitant and as he pulled the trigger Nathan Cameron slid in to snuff out the chance.

Buckley-Ricketts looked lively early on and one flash of skill took him into space just outside the penalty area, forcing Connor Ripley into a save.

Bury had not scored in their previous eight league games, but Chris Maguire pressed hard to end that run on his return to the Kassam Stadium.

The forward’s low cross almost led to an own goal in the 11th minute when John Mousinho stuck out his leg, but the centre back did a good job of taking the pace off the ball to allow Simon Eastwood to gather.

United rode their luck with the next Maguire delivery, this time from a corner. His centre hit Mousinho’s chest and with Eastwood rooted to the spot the ball rebounded into the right-hand post and bounced clear.

Bury felt aggrieved again on 26 minutes. As they did with the opening goal in last week’s 2-1 defeat at Walsall, United fell asleep defending a free-kick and Dwight Tiendalli slid in on Zeli Ismail.

The Shakers were convinced it was a penalty, but the referee waved play on.

It was the last big decision Robert Lewis made, as injury forced him off 11 minutes before the break, replaced by fourth official Adrian Waters.

Frustration was growing among the home fans as their side laboured in possession.

There was little movement from United’s attack-minded players, which meant their back four were continuously passing the ball between themselves.

It suited a deep-lying Bury just fine, but in the final minute of the first half the patient approach paid off.

From Mowatt’s pass Buckley-Ricketts was tackled on the left corner of the area and the Manchester City loanee pounced on the loose ball. He played in the overlapping Dwight Tiendalli, whose low cross reached the back post, where Henry smashed a shot high into the net from six yards.

Five minutes into the second half United had a good chance to double their lead, but from Ruffels’s ball over the top Obika’s 20-yard shot was parried by Ripley.

It was a rare clear chance in a game which meandered along in a sleepy atmosphere.

United did not have a firm grip on the contest, but Bury hardly looked like ending their goal drought either.

Maguire’s hopes of a goal on his return were ended when he was substituted midway through the half, coming off to a standing ovation from the home fans.

United were creeping towards victory, but their one-goal lead was slender and nine minutes from time they were pegged back.

Tiendalli played Eastwood into trouble with a poor pass, leading to a cheap throw-in. The home side did not deal with the long throw and Miller stabbed a finish into the net.

If that was bad, there was worse to come.

Just three minutes later a hopeful ball over the top somehow found Bunn totally unmarked and the substitute lashed into the net past an exposed Eastwood.

A shell-shocked United were kept at arm’s length in the closing stages, as Bury ran down the clock to claim only their fifth league win of the season. Two have come against the U’s.

Oxford Utd (4-4-2): Eastwood, Carroll, Martin, Mousinho, Tiendalli, Henry, Mowatt, Ruffels, Buckley-Ricketts (Napa 80), Obika, Mehmeti (Ledson 62).

Unused subs: Shearer, Dickie, Raglan, Xemi, Van Kessel.

Booked: Mousinho.

Bury (4-4-2): Ripley, Edwards, Clarke, Cameron, Leigh, Ismail (Bunn 74), Danns, Dawson, Mayor, Maguire (Miller 67), Hanson.

Unused subs: Murphy, Skarz, Tutte, Dai, Laurent.

Booked: Dawson, Edwards.

Referee: Robert Lewis (Shropshire).

Attendance: 6,457 (191 visitors).