Norton breaks Bucks’ hearts

Buxton Fc v FC United of Manchester, Mark Reed
Buxton Fc v FC United of Manchester, Mark Reed
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Evo-Stik Premier Division

Buxton FC 2

FC United of Mcr 2

BUXTON were cruelly denied a flawless 11-day run as a last-gasp equaliser secured FC United of Manchester a share of the spoils in Saturday’s promotion battle.

Captain Mike Norton was FC United’s hero as his two goals - the second near the end of six minutes of injury time - cancelled out Kieran Lugsden’s brace.

Buxton Fc v FC United of Manchester, Kieran Lugsden's pokes in his first goal

Buxton Fc v FC United of Manchester, Kieran Lugsden's pokes in his first goal

In front of a bumper Silverlands crowd of 1,726, the Bucks made a perfect start against the Red Rebels when a cross-field pass by Grant Black on the right was cleverly played back across goal by Michael Towey and eventually bundled over the line by Lugsden with just three minutes on the clock.

FC United dominated proceedings soon after, pushing Buxton back into their own half and causing the home defence problems with a series of left-wing crosses into the box which saw Jerome Wright and Norton both miss the target. Despite periods of sustained pressure, the Bucks’ defence of Black, Josh Wilde, captain Gregg Anderson and substitute Sam Liversidge, replacing the injured Tommy Agus, did well to protect Scott Hartley’s goal, especially when a goalmouth scramble ensued close to half time.

The hosts remained a threat in front of goal, and some fancy footwork by Towey on the edge of the area and his resulting shot across goal from the by-line was just lacking a final touch.

Towey, assisted by Mark Reed, was again involved minutes later when he created space for Lugsden to force a save from Sam Ashton, diving to his left.

The second half was less than two minutes old when Wright was gifted time and space to fire a weak shot straight into the arms of Hartley. Then a mistake by Anderson allowed a quick FC break, but Simon Carden emphatically fluffed his lines in front of the vocal travelling support.

A howler from Ashton resulted in Buxton’s second goal on 54 minutes, and was no more than Lugsden deserved for his tireless running. The keeper came out of his area to control a backpass on his knee, but a heavy touch was seized upon by Lugsden, who robbed the ball and calmly headed into an empty net.

One radio commentator quipped that Ashton had made a pig’s ear of the goal – so it was somewhat surprising minutes later when a pig’s head was bizarrely deposited onto the pitch close to the keeper’s goalmouth.

Norton gave FC United a lifeline soon after the hour mark when his left-footed volley from just inside the area squeezed through a crowd of players and past the diving Hartley.

Not content with sitting back, Buxton still ventured forward. Reed almost got his head to a Black cross at the far post, while substitute Sam Johnson profited from some good work by Scott Maxfield but his rushed shot was straight at the keeper.

Then Ashton almost made another costly gaffe when he sprinted off his line to clear, straight to Maxfield who unsuccessfully tried to lob the ball into the empty goal.

Buxton’s hopes of hanging on for the win evaporated as the referee announced six minutes of added time at the end of the game, and with five of these successfully negotiated Norton produced an almost carbon copy of his first goal to break the Bucks’ hearts.

Buxton: Hartley, Black, Wilde (Ovington, 80), Agus (Liversidge, 30), Anderson (c), Maxfield, Stevens, Towey, Reed, Lugsden (Johnson, 83), Ridley. Subs not used: Askey, Pembleton. Attendance: 1,726.