Evo-Stik Premier Division: Mickleover Sports 1, Buxton FC 3
ANOTHER commanding performance in a basement ‘six-pointer’ made it five wins out of six for the rejuvenated Bucks last Wednesday and lifted them out of the relegation places for the first time since early November.
Once again it was a fine team performance which earned the points with the visitors in charge for all but the last few minutes when Mickleover, unbeaten at home since early December, scored their consolation goal.
Sports had a decent share of possession but generally created few clear openings and in their frustration descended into a long-running series of arguments with match officials.
By contrast the Bucks looked dangerous in attack throughout the first half and scored three well-executed goals to establish an unassailable lead.
They started as they continued and might have taken a second minute lead by Mark Reed who was put clear through the home defence. Though tugged back he stayed on his feet but the advancing ‘keeper saved with his legs.
The striker, however, was winning a lot of the ball in the air in Buxton’s build-up play and a goal seemed inevitable, with it duly coming in the 18th minute, courtesy of a well-directed long throw by Marc Roberts.
Eight yards out Bradley Barraclough placed a deft header just inside an upright.
Mickleover worked hard to close down the visitors’ creativity in midfield but even so Neil Stevens produced a good run and low shot from 25 yards that ‘keeper Clarke touched wide for a corner kick.
Target-man Reed was subjected to much physical contact but the hosts conceded one free-kick too many in the 38th minute. Reed met Grant Black’s perfect delivery with a powerful header into the roof of the net from virtually the same spot where Barraclough had netted.
Five minutes later came the decisive third goal with a Roberts long throw again the provider. Centre-back McAughtrie half cleared but a flashing 20-yard low drive by Peter Davidson found the net.
Mickleover mounted the expected attempted recovery and Ashton prodded over the bar as Buxton defended well, then the confident Davidson ran down the centre but his 20-yard rising drive cleared the bar and Reed forced a corner after a fine Stevens pass had released Black to put in a cross.
A forceful Sports attack saw two efforts blocked close to the line, then Scott Hartley was in play to deal effectively with several crosses, but it was the Bucks who in this period went closest to scoring.
Josh Wilde, who had a fine match, was played in on the left by Davidson and his narrow-angle drive beat Clarke but rebounded from the post into the grateful ‘keeper’s arms.
Manager Martin McIntosh substituted key players, yet another half-cleared Roberts throw gave Davidson a further chance but his shot passed high and wide before Mickleover pulled a goal back in the 86th minute.
Unable to deal fully with a home attack, Hartley was still grounded as Alex Steadman drove into the unguarded net.
The Buxton keeper was then forced to make an instinctive close-range save to thwart a grandstand finish.
So Buxton deservedly took full points but all was put into perspective by news of the collapse and death at half-time of a Mickleover supporter.
Buxton: Hartley, Black, Wilde, Istead, Hawes, Roberts, Stevens, Davidson, Reed, Barraclough, Maxfield. Subs: Agus (Maxfield), Ridley (Istead), Payne (Barraclough), Towey, Turner. Attendance: 315.