The Pics chip away at Buxton’s weak defence

Buxton FC players, Josh Wilde
Buxton FC players, Josh Wilde

HAVING lost both first-choice centre-backs in a week, defensive frailty cost Buxton a chance of reward from their first visit to the West Midlands club Rushall Olympic, who completed a league and cup treble over their relegation-threatened visitors.

Olympic, the division’s lowest scorers, played to their muscular strength in an unsatisfying match of much physical contact, eight yellow cards and little flowing football on a difficult surface, yet had match-winners in Bottomer and substitute Obeng, both of whom had played a major part in Buxton’s FA Cup exit in October.

The Bucks showed promise going forward but the defence lacked a secure look once Rushall had taken the lead in the 24th minute.

Grant Black moved to the centre but the absence of Curtley Williams and the injured Tommy Agus proved crucial as the Bucks lost away in a league game for the first time in five.

The visitors had an early let-off but Adam Billard, preferred to Scott Hartley, made up for a weak clearance with a save from Melbourne, and Bradley Barraclough showed his class by beating the giant Gomes to produce a curling shot aimed for a top corner.

Keeper Gemmell’s flying save thwarted him, then Scott Ridley’s curling cross landed on the bar but had first gone out of play.

However, Olympic scored first from a free-kick harshly awarded against Josh Wilde for hands at close range.

Defender Haynes’ curling effort from the right edge of the penalty area passed untouched into the far side-netting.

Olympic had several opportunities to double their advantage, with Billard saving Bottomer’s shot and centre-back Spittle shooting point-blank at the keeper, before Black had to head a dangerous cross over his own bar.

Yet close to half-time, Bottomer did score in disappointingly comfortable fashion.

A defensive error let him away on the left and he progressed to the by-line, along it then in-field before beating Billard at his near-post from four yards.

Top scorers Kieran Lugsden and Mark Reed soon entered the second-half action as Buxton adapted to a three-pronged strike-force, but it was Rushall who first threatened.

Billard made a good save but Michael Towey had to intervene with a defensive header that clipped the bar.

Yet the Bucks got back in contention with a fortuitous 66th-minute goal.

A pacy Barraclough run down the right forced a corner-kick which was cleared to Wilde, who returned the ball high to drop under the bar.

Under pressure, keeper Gemmell couldn’t keep it out and referee Hands saw nothing illegal in the challenge of Lugsden and Reed.

Much encouraged by the goal, Buxton forced the pace but were denied a penalty award when Naylor brought down Lugsden, and five minutes later Rushall regained their two-goal advantage and effectively secured the points.

An error at a Buxton throw-in allowed an Olympic break up the right and though Billard did well to save Obeng’s first effort, the ball returned to the substitute striker who headed home.

Buxton: Billard, Stevens, Black, Burgin, Wilde, Baxendale (Reed, 54), Davidson, Maxfield (Lugsden, 45), Towey, Ridley, Barraclough. Substitutes: Liversidge, Taylor, Hartley. Attendance: 238.