Play-off push back on track

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Evo-Stik Premier Division

Chasetown 0, Buxton FC 1

BUXTON’S promotion push is deservedly back on track after Tuesday evening’s hard-earned victory over a team which earned a place in the FA Trophy quarter-final only last Saturday.

The superior side virtually throughout, Buxton displayed skill and strength all over the pitch to complete a third double of the season.

The defence was secure, with Tommy Agus and Matt Heywood, again preferred to Gregg Anderson, offering an impenetrable barrier and player-coach Scott Maxfield bossing the midfield, while Mark Reed and Kieran Lugsden busily occupied the home rearguard.

The success, however, was gained at a cost as debutant wide midfielder Martin Pembleton was stretchered off, probably with ankle ligament damage at the least, shortly before half time.

He was the victim of a challenge by midfielder Stephens, but the perfectly-placed assistant referee, eight yards away, failed to detect this dangerous aerial lunge and his error changed the nature of the match for more than half an hour.

What had been an intriguingly skilful contest, with the Bucks establishing superiority, became a tough and tense physical battle, barely controlled by referee Newbold who had early on raised doubts by flashing a card at Lugsden for a mistimed first challenge when a cautionary word would have sufficed.

Never a team to shirk a physical response when necessary, Buxton battled on and in the last quarter-hour were little troubled in holding the lead established immediately after the interval.

Scott Hartley had not one serious save to make, though several dangerous crosses tested him under the crossbar.

The only goal resulted from a deft through ball by Reed and Lugsden, timing his run expertly, found himself in possession yards clear of the Chasetown defenders.

Keeper Price made a fatal hesitation, Lugsden rounded him with ease and found the net from six yards.

Thereafter, the visitors made further imaginative openings which could have doubled the advantage, with Michael Towey twice narrowly missing contact as he was fed from the right, while Neil Stevens, an able deputy, launched a cross from the by-line only for Josh Wilde’s firm header to be blocked close to goal.

The outstanding attack of the evening, however, was a first-half Buxton passing movement involving seven different players over half the pitch to earn a corner kick.

Leaping three places up the table to sixth, Buxton will next travel to the improved Burscough with every confidence of mounting a challenge for the play-offs.

As for Chasetown, it was a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’. At no stage did the Scholars show the enterprise and threat seen at the Silverlands in November’s encounter.

Buxton: Hartley, Black, Heywood, Agus, Wilde, Pembleton (Stevens, 39), Towey, Maxfield, Ridley, Reed (Whight, 89), Lugsden. Substitutes not used: Anderson, Liversidge, Kirkland. Attendance: 408.