BUXTON FC’s player-manager Scott Maxfield insists he heads into the crunch Boxing Day derby at Matlock Town “without fear” after last Saturday’s thriller at Whitby Town, the club’s first win in the league since mid-September.
The December 26 Evo-Stik Premier Division fixture at Causeway Lane (kick-off 3pm) will be the first meeting between arch-rivals The Bucks and The Gladiators this season.
Buxton were victorious in this away fixture last season, winning 3-1 thanks to goals from Kieran Lugsden (2) and Michael Towey. At that time, the result helped re-energise their push for promotion.
Nine months on and the league table tells a different story, with the Bucks sitting in the relegation zone, one point adrift of safety, while Matlock sit comfortably in mid-table.
But despite the significance of the fixture and the hype, Maxfield remains unfazed, stating: “I’m not going into the game with any fear.
“I know the Matlock manager very well, I played with him at Doncaster, and know his side is very organised, physical and they play football in the same way, so we will need to match them for endeavour and workrate if we are to get something from the game.
“If you are looking at the league positions I would say, yes, we are the underdogs, but as it’s been pretty much right across the league this season, on any given day anyone can beat anyone.”
Buxton head into Monday’s derby fixture following back to back wins; last Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Long Eaton United in the Derbyshire Senior Cup Third Round was followed up on Saturday by a pulsating 4-3 win at Whitby Town, the first in the league during Maxfield’s reign.
Two goals from Mark Reed - taking his tally for the club to 199 - and one each for 22-year-old Bradley Barraclough, on his debut on loan from Lincoln City, and second-half substitute Kieran Lugsden sealed the win over the Seasiders, in a match which also saw goalkeeper Scott Hartley red-carded.
“I was pleased with the result and pleased with the character that the lads showed when going a goal down early on,” commented Maxfield.
“I thought all of our goals were excellent, surging moves, nice passing interchanges culminating in some great finishes.”
However the player-manager said there was some aspects of the performance that needed immediate attention, not least the sluggish start to the game and the defensive frailties, not helped by centre-back Curtley Williams’ absence after being stranded by snow at home in East Anglia.
On the spot-kick and subsequent red card for goalkeeper Hartley, Maxfield said: “In my mind, the penalty was controversial to say the least. I think Scotty went to speak to the referee and I don’t think he purposely pushed him over, but he gave the referee the opportunity to send him off.”
The sending off set the scene for a dream debut for newly-signed goalkeeper Adam Billard who, with the Bucks leading 4-3, saved the penalty with his first touch of the ball.
Billard, 19, who joined Buxton last week, spent his formative years with Sheffield Wednesday before joining Worksop Town for last season. This summer he moved on to Sheffield FC before being on dual registration forms with Parkgate and Frickley Athletic, for whom he recently appeared against the Bucks.
And commenting on the performance of his squad’s other new face, Barraclough, Maxfield said: “I thought he had an excellent debut. His movement was superb, and he added a freshness to the team and an extra goal threat.”
Still keen to improve the current squad, Maxfield has also served a seven-day notice of approach on an established Premier Division player and hopes to have signed him in time for the holiday fixtures, adding: “I want to keep that freshness and competition for places.”
* Buxton FC entertain Stocksbridge Park Steels in the New Year Bank Holiday Monday fixture at the Silverlands on January 2 (kick-off 3pm).
* The Bucks now know their opponents in the fourth round of both the county and league cups, with the ties to be played midweek in January. In the Derbyshire Senior Cup, Buxton travel to face reformed Evo-Stik First Division South side Ilkeston FC, while in the Doodson Sport Cup they face a trip to First Division North outfit Witton Albion, the latter defeating Stafford Rangers 3-1 in the previous round.