Buxton struggle to make an impact

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Evo-Stik Premier Division: Marine 1, Buxton FC 0

WHAT a puzzle of a performance was produced by Buxton on Merseyside last Saturday.

Previously outstanding and creating enough clear chances to have won two games versus much-fancied Chester, at Crosby the Bucks struggled to make an impression on a resolute Marine, and when they did two of their few worthwhile efforts were ruled out for infringements.

The visitors suffered a major pre-match setback with the illness of impressive central defender Curtley Williams, and twice in the first three minutes Marine’s central strikers Harvey and Rey, who had wreaked havoc at the Silverlands in September, carved through the centre of Buxton’s rearguard.

From the kick-off, Rey set-up the unmarked Harvey, only just back from the Barbadian island team, but Scott Hartley expertly saved the shot with his legs.

Next Harvey passed to Rey in an even better scoring position but his gentle prod towards the unguarded net allowed Hartley to recover.

Ten minutes later Harvey powered a hack shot over the bar, before the visitors threatened for the first time, Mark Reed heading against a post from Grant Black’s cross, though the striker was incorrectly adjudged to be offside.

As Buxton improved, Reed fed Steve Ridley in a good position but after he missed contact the ball returned to the striker who shot high and wide, then Reed put a downward header wide from Ridley’s high cross.

In reply, Marine continued to look dangerous and Black had to clear from the line following a deflected free-kick, before the visitors’ woes seemed to increase with the loss of Louis Horne to a calf injury.

However, Tommy Agus returned from his month’s absence in superb form to be the Bucks’ best player.

On the stroke of half-time, he forced keeper McMahon to tip his powerfully-struck, 30-yard free-kick over the bar, and just after the interval his fine tackle thwarted a dangerous Marine break.

Nonetheless, on 52 minutes the Mariners scored the decisive goal, Johnson shooting low from 18 yards with Hartley beaten at full stretch.

Buxton’s response was disappointing as Black and Ridley wasted crosses and not enough was made of Reed’s dominating aerial prowess.

On 73 minutes Michael Towey did find the net after Reed’s work had produced a loose ball, but the striker was deemed to have fouled Shaw in the process.

That effort was Buxton’s first on goal in the second half and, despite substitutions, their only other near-miss was Sam Johnson’s deflected shot.

The Bucks did mount some late pressure but even that was disturbed by the ludicrous intervention of an assistant who was determined to draw the referee’s attention to a clothing issue in the visitors’ dugout. Proof indeed that it was not only Buxton’s midfield that had an ‘off day’ in a rather drab match.

Buxton: Hartley, Black, Liversidge, Horne (Agus, 38), Wilde, Stevens (S Johnson, 81), Towey, Maxfield, Ridley (Taylor, 71), Reed, Lugsden. Att: 314.