Evo-Stik Premier Division: Buxton 3, Frickley Athletic 0
IT WASN’T so much a huge step, more a giant leap towards safety as Buxton FC picked up their third league win in four games with a 3-0 victory over fellow strugglers Frickley Athletic on Saturday.
Mark Reed boosted his confidence with two headed goals, while strike partner Bradley Barraclough chipped in with a solo effort of his own to put the gloss on a thoroughly convincing performance.
Reed’s opening goal in first-half stoppage time, a glancing header from a Steve Ridley corner kick, was no less than the Bucks deserved after 45 minutes of near-dominance; Frickley failing to produce an attack of any real substance.
The visitors were unable to deal with a flurry of corners delivered accurately by Ridley, and searching long throws into the danger area by the again excellent Marc Roberts.
Inside the opening 20 minutes, Kieran Lugsden found the side netting from a Ridley cross, while Frickley keeper Stephen Dickinson produced an athletic one-handed diving save to keep out a Michael Towey header from a Roberts throw.
An injury to Towey midway through the first half saw him replaced by Peter Davidson, who looked assured in the midfield role.
Lugsden rattled the crossbar after storming into the box to meet another Roberts throw, and minutes later volleyed from the edge of the penalty area straight at the keeper after a mazy Barraclough run. Steve Istead was unlucky not to find the target from a similar position.
After Reed’s strike on the stroke of half-time, Frickley came out fired up for the second half, with a James Ashmore free-kick forcing Hartley into a save, and first-half substitute Peter Knox fizzing a shot across the keeper’s goalmouth.
But with 58 minutes on the clock, Buxton’s all-time leading scorer struck again with an almost carbon copy of his opener. Great strength by Lugsden on the byline allowed him to squeeze through a cross and Dickinson could only watch as Reed picked his spot in the top left-hand corner of the goal.
Dickinson was alert to a bobbling Josh Wilde grasscutter which lacked any real power, but he could do little about Buxton’s third goal 15 minutes later as Barraclough’s burst of pace beat the sleeping Frickley defence and the in-form striker confidently rounded the abandoned custodian to net his eighth goal in 11 appearances.
Reed was unlucky not to complete a hat-trick when his header from another Lugsden cross, this time from the left, was blocked by the body of Dickinson.
Frickley put up more of a fight in the second half, making Hartley earn his side’s first clean sheet since late November. In quick succession he dived to deny Danny South and tipped over the resulting dangerous corner kick. Just prior to full-time, he blocked an effort with his body on the goalline.
No doubting this win was fully deserved, but at the same time it sent a strong message of intent to the teams directly above them as the season reaches its climax.
Buxton: Hartley, Stevens, Wilde, Istead, Hawes, Roberts, Lugsden, Towey (Davidson, 25), Reed, Barraclough, Ridley (Agus, 84). Subs not used: Maxfield, Brahim-Bounab, Turner. Attendance: 242.