Evo-Stik Premier Division: Burscough 1, Buxton FC 2
Buxton went into this bottom of the table clash knowing that this was a game they had to win to have any chance of avoiding relegation.
With Adie Hawes injured in the pre-match warm-up, Tommy Agus partnered Marc Roberts at centre back. Manager Martin McIntosh signalled the Bucks’ positive intent by including three strikers.
From the first whistle the visitors looked the stronger, more adventurous outfit with Bradley Barraclough, Michael Towey and Mark Reed all having early efforts on goal before Steve Istead struck a fine shot from 20 yards which beat Ellison only to rebound off the inside of his post.
Buxton continued to dominate, with Marc Roberts and Tommy Agus dealing easily with the occasional Burscough counter-attack.
On 32 minutes Buxton suffered a further injury blow with Reed forced from the field to be replaced by Peter Davidson. Buxton continued to press with Towey and Roberts both threatening from excellent set-pieces, delivered from the right side by Scott Maxfield on his 200th appearance.
The second half followed the same pattern with Josh Wilde and Grant Black pushing on at every opportunity and Istead, Davidson and Maxfield dominating possession.
Roberts continued to threaten from corner kicks and a Buxton goal seemed inevitable. From yet another corner which was only half-cleared, Towey appeared to be clearly fouled right on the penalty spot but referee Mellor pointed for a goal-kick much to the visitors frustration.
The breakthrough came on 68 minutes, when Kieran Lugsden slipped his marker on the right wing to deliver a cross beyond the far post. Barraclough had cleverly made himself a yard of space to head back across goalkeeper Ellison from ten yards out to score.
Burscough responded by putting in several aggressive challenges – some fair, some not. Following one of the latter, left-back Whitcombe was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
Buxton continued to press, seeking the security of a second goal, and on 74 minutes Neil Stevens, replacing a limping Maxfield, set Davidson off on a run down the left which took him past three Burscough defenders before he fired his shot goalwards from the edge of the box. The ball struck the underside of the bar, goal-line and bar again before finally hitting the back of the net.
Shortly afterwards Davidson was replaced by Steve Ridley having taken a knock on the ankle. The remaining play saw Burscough desperately launching the ball forward.
On 88 minutes they finally put together a five-pass movement on the edge of the Buxton area and earned a penalty kick when the otherwise faultless Roberts was judged to have tripped Clarke just inside the area.
Scott Hartley got a hand to Clarke’s spot kick, but the ball found its way into the top-left corner of the net.
The Bucks however were in no mood to let the game slip from their grasp and continued to play controlled football to see out the remaining time in the Burscough half and record a thoroughly deserved win.
Buxton: Hartley, Black, Wilde, Istead, Agus, Roberts, Barraclough, Towey, Reed, Lugsden, Maxfield. Substitutes: Stevens, Ridley, Davidson, Bounab, Turner. Att: 186.