Evo-Stik Premier Division
Stocksbridge Park Steels 0, Buxton 2
A GOAL in each half gave Buxton a deserved victory in South Yorkshire on Monday to make a perfect Bank Holiday weekend for the Silverlanders with maximum points earned.
For the neutral, the first half, as on Saturday, was the more satisfying as both sides played plenty of passing, attacking soccer and while the Bucks had established a lead by the interval, Steels had stretched the compact visiting defence on occasions.
In the second half the visitors’ supporters could breathe more easily as Martin McIntosh’s men looked increasingly comfortable in their lead, even though their second goal didn’t arrive until the very end.
Buxton’s manager understandably shuffled his pack again for the second match in three days with Jordan Thewlis, Kyle Nix and Scott Maxfield rested as Kieran Lugsden and Michael Towey were restored to the starting 11.
Once again the Bucks made a very positive start, forcing early corners, and in the eighth minute Lugsden went close to scoring as keeper Collinge just managed to get a hand to the striker’s low cross-shot.
When the goal did arrive in the 14th minute it was arguably one of the most outrageous flukes ever credited to Buxton.
Some 35 yards from goal, Mark Reed made a powerful challenge for a loose ball which cannoned off his opponent at speed, struck Kallum Keane ten yards closer to the target and wrong-footed Collinge to enter the net unimpeded.
If this was fortuitous for the Bucks, they had a similar misfortune just prior to the interval as they pressed to double their advantage.
Having advanced for a set-piece, David Haggerty blasted a 12-yard shot that was heading for the roof of the net - until it struck Reed full in the face and was deflected wide of goal.
In between these unusual incidents, both sides played good-quality passing soccer to create openings that went unconverted.
The mainspring for Steels was midfielder Alex Callery, the son of one-time Silverlands hero Neil, but it was from a free-kick that his side went closest to scoring as centre-back Carr headed wide from a good position.
For Buxton, Kevin Sandwith’s set-piece deliveries proved a constant threat while Towey looked a likely scorer as he created space in the penalty area but Carr blocked his goal-bound shot.
In the second half, Buxton continued to search for a necessary 2-0 lead with right-back Grant Black featuring regularly.
His driven ball forward deflected high off a defender but Reed, with his back to goal, couldn’t manage a scoring touch.
Then a superb Black tackle by the halfway line simultaneously put Steve Istead clear down the right but his shot was blocked and the same fate met Keane’s accurate shot after fine work by Reed at the byline had set him up.
Meanwhile, the visitors’ in-form defence gradually snuffed out any Steels threat to leave keeper Steve Collis well-protected.
By contrast, as the final whistle neared, a home defender made a ghastly error as his misplaced square pass reached Istead 20 yards out and he placed his shot delightfully into the top corner of the net.
Buxton: Collis, Black, Roberts, Haggerty, Sandwith, Istead, Towey, Keane (Nix, 63), Duncum (Maxfield, 86), Reed, Lugsden (Thewlis, 81). Substitutes: Hall, Turner. Attendance: 226.