Buxton 2-2 Stafford - match report

Buxton FC v Staford Rangers, Sam Brooks
Buxton FC v Staford Rangers, Sam Brooks
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If ever there was a game that summed up the Bucks’ contrasting fortunes this season, then this was it.

Martin McIntosh’s side threw away a two-goal lead to Stafford, who could easily have taken all three points after staging a memorable comeback.

Buxton FC v Staford Rangers, Matt Thornhill

Buxton FC v Staford Rangers, Matt Thornhill

The result confirmed the visitors’ relegation from the Evo-Stik Premier Division and left Buxton fans shaking their heads at yet another collapse when their side were cruising towards victory.

A brace from the resurgent Mark Reed had propelled the hosts into a commanding lead.

The striker netted in quick succession just after the re-start, after a dour first 45 minutes in which both sides failed to create any clear-cut opportunities.

The best chances fell to Buxton, but they failed to open the scoring as Stafford showed strong resistance.

The re-start could not have gone worse for the visitors though, as it took less than a minute for Reed to find the net.

His opening goal owed to shoddy defending from the visitors, as he was afforded far too much time and space inside the area before picking his spot.

His second strike arrived 14 minutes later and it had a comical edge to it.

Good work down the left by Jamie Green saw the full-back swing in a high, looping cross.

Stafford’s goalkeeper should have claimed the ball but a mix-up between him and a defender allowed Reed the easiest of free headers to double the lead.

With Buxton 2-0 up at home to a side facing the drop, they could and should have extended their lead.

However, a temporary switch-off inside the box allowed Ian Crainey the chance to reduce the arrears for Stafford, as his inswinging free-kick evaded everyone on its way to goal.

Buxton then had ample opportunities to extend their lead but they couldn’t seal what would have almost certainly been a game-clinching third.

Craig King, who was chief tormentor all afternoon, saw his drilled effort well-held by the visiting stopper, before Reed blew his chance of a hat-trick.

The striker’s improvised backheel just went the wrong side of the post and that miss was duly punished by Stafford, as moments later they equalised.

A long throw-in caused havoc inside the Bucks’ box before Dan Cope’s acrobatic effort flew past Andy Warrington.

The momentum was now with Stafford and in the final stages of the game Chris Smith galloped forward through on goal only to see his effort just fly past a post.

As it was, even a victory would not have prevented Stafford’s demotion and they will now join Droylsden and Stocksbridge in departing the division.

As for Buxton, they did at least extend their recent streak to just one defeat in nine games but that will be little consolation as they approach the final stages of a forgettable campaign.

Bucks: Warrington, Green, Palmer, Brooks, Ludlam, King, Davies, Istead, Stevens, Morris (Thornhill 46), Reed.