Darlington 1883 3-3 Buxton (Bucks win 4-3 on penalties)
It appears the ‘spirit of Telford’ lives on among the Buxton contingent as Martin McIntosh’s men emulated that epic occasion by fighting back from a three-goal interval deficit to take this Trophy replay to extra time and ultimately penalties.
Three years ago Buxton won an FA Cup penalty shoot-out in Shropshire after an astonishing come-back and equaliser with only nine men.
Against Darlington, having conceded three goals to a rampant home side in the opening 25 minutes, the visitors looked certain to exit the competition, especially as their saviour from the initial tie, goalkeeper Andy Warrington, was unavailable and had been replaced by his understudy John Stanway.
The teenager’s first-team experience amounted to a mere brace of appearances last season but the longer the replay went on the greater his stature grew.
Late on he made several excellent saves to thwart the hosts and then repeated that quality in the shoot-out with two more saves to allow Buxton to shade the competition 4-3, earning a visit to Sheffield FC on Saturday, November 2 in the next round.
As in Saturday’s match, Darlington raced out of the blocks.
A long cross tested Stanway then a hole appeared in the Buxton rearguard and Dowson netted from close range in only the second minute.
Four minutes later it was 2-0 as Steve Thompson ended a right-flank attack with a fierce drive that went in off the crossbar.
Gradually the Bucks settled to their passing game but midway through the half a missed chance soon seemed a major turning-pint.
Centrally placed and only a few yards out, Matt Thornhill couldn’t make contact with a lofted Grant Black cross so play switched to the other end and Thompson headed home a corner-kick to make it 3-0 before the break.
The next 45 minutes had a totally different feel to them.
The Bucks forced six corners in the opening 10 minutes with Tim Ryan seeing a powerful header cleared from the line, then Craig King became increasingly prominent with two decent shots and a curling cross going close.
On 66 minutes King passed to Kieran Lugsden who then set up Lee Morris for a far-post tap in.
Just 3 minutes later the Bucks were back in contention at 2-3 scoring a team goal of the highest quality.
Ryan found Steve Istead on the right with an inch-perfect, 40-yard pass and after a rapid move involving Morris and Lugsden, Thornhill ghosted in to apply a close-range finish.
Buxton continued to probe but with seven minutes left another turning point kept hopes alive.
A midfield error set up Thompson and his 20-yard firm low shot was heading for net corner but Stanway’s fine save diverted it and 5 minutes later King netted a classy equaliser, his searing 20-yard drive finding the top corner.
Extra time was more a cagey affair but in each half the home side created the best opening.
Stanway again made a very good save, this time with a leg, before home substitute Johnson missed a sitter from Edward’s low pull-back.
In the shoot-out Buxton’s young ‘keeper gave his team the initiative with a top-class save from the first kick and after Ryan and Istead had netted confidently he even got his fingers to the third Darlington kick.
However, the third Buxton penalty, taken by Derek Niven, was saved to leave the scores level at 2-2, before both number nine’s netted their efforts. Remarkably Stanway made another fine save to thwart Edwards, leaving Grant Black to score the winning penalty with aplomb.
Bucks: Stanway; Black, Palmer, Ryan, Green; Istead, Niven, Thornhill (Stevens); Lugsden (Bradbury), Morris, King.