Bucks survive - with two games to spare

Neil Stevens
Neil Stevens
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Stafford Rangers 0, Buxton FC 2

A COMMANDING Buxton second-half performance last Saturday, featuring some fine passing soccer, produced a fourth consecutive away win, a ninth victory in the last 11 games and a double over Stafford inside four days.

Oozing with confidence and self-belief, the Bucks created numerous openings but it was only in the last quarter of the match that they scored the goals their superiority warranted.

The first half was a more even affair, though Buxton still had rather better of the exchanges and made the first openings with keeper Read in action to divert a Marc Roberts cross and a scorching Tommy Agus 35-yard free-kick, though Scott Hartley had to make a smart low save from a Hedley header following a Kinsella free-kick and then again to deny ex-Crewe midfielder Kevin Street.

Buxton continued to press forward effectively and once again Mark Reed’s aerial prowess was much in evidence, with his lay-offs setting up several attacks.

Roberts was also able to employ his long throw and from one such effort Read miscued a punch and Kieran Lugsden’s hooked shot passed the angle of post and bar.

After the interval the Bucks tightened the screw to establish virtually full control, with the goals coming in the game’s last quarter.

For Stafford, Street tried a speculative long shot, yet too high, and Hedley curled a loose ball wide of goal, but otherwise it was generally the visitors on the attack.

Bradley Barraclough fed Michael Towey whose cross from the byline narrowly eluded Lugsden, then Grant Black, whose second-half delivery was excellent, crossed for Barraclough, only for him to be denied by George’s saving tackle.

In the 66th minute Black sent a glorious pass down the flank for Lugsden and when Barraclough met his fine, low cross, the keeper saved with his legs at the expense of a corner-kick.

That only delayed the opening goal by seconds as Black’s inswinger from the corner flag was met by a towering Roberts header.

Stafford in vain mounted a five-minute response, then Towey played a diagonal through ball beyond the home defence for Reed to spring onto only for the striker to scuff his shot wide.

However, with ten minutes left, the Bucks sealed victory after a number of efforts on goal.

Midfielder Neil Stevens, another player to contribute an excellent display, latched onto a loose ball and fired home confidently and low from 15 yards with the outside of his right boot.

The visitors continued to press and another impressive passing movement from the right almost made it 3-0.

Superb passes by Black and Stevens found Reed in the centre, though his convincing drive hit a post, then at the very end Black’s curling free-kick forced Read into a tip-over save.

Buxton’s heavy Easter programme of four matches in eight days had remarkably brought the maximum reward of 12 points.

Buxton: Hartley, Black, Agus, Roberts, Wilde, Towey, Istead, Stevens, Lugsden, Reed, Barraclough (Payne 76). Substitutes: Hawes, Davidson, Maxfield, Turner. Attendance: 502.