Nantwich Town 2 .................................
ON A mild Tuesday evening perfect for soccer, this highly entertaining match saw Buxton lead twice but concede a late equaliser to share the points with higher-placed Nantwich.
Manager Martin McIntosh gave a debut to ex-Nottingham Forest and Hibernian midfielder Matt Thornhill, whose first touch was an impressively struck 25-yard low drive that fizzed narrowly wide of goal. He then put a header in the same place from a Sandwith corner-kick after Sam Duncum, returning from injury to show up well in the first half, had forced a good low save out of keeper Brain with a 20-yard shot. Nantwich showed promise in attack as striker Josh Lane broke out quickly but Duncum tracked back to end the threat and Buxton took the lead in the 23rd minute. Skipper Steve Istead fastened onto a loose ball at the left corner of the Nantwich penalty box and scored with a powerful, curling shot under the far angle of post and bar.
The lead lasted some ten minutes but was erased by an equally impressive finishing shot. Ex-Crewe striker Everall for once escaped Marc Roberts’ shackles to blast home from 20 yards, high into the net. Good passing soccer abounded from these well-matched teams but Buxton had a let-off just prior to half-time. Cooke robbed Haggerty (who was substituted at the break), advanced intelligently, and fed McLachlan, who netted from an offside position.
Three early substitutions then altered the make-up of the Buxton side but the visitors continued to threaten and from another dangerous Kevin Sandwith corner-kick Kieran Lugsden missed contact close to goal. That was soon followed by a glaring miss by Mark Reed, who had earlier arrived at Nantwich feeling unwell. Put through by fellow substitute Michael Towey, the striker was two yards offside but was allowed to continue to drag his shot a yard wide of the far post. However, such is the strength of character of Buxton’s all-time leading scorer that two minutes later he created a goal from an unlikely position. He out-muscled the much bigger centre-back McDonald to finish low and decisively from eight yards. Nantwich sought an equaliser and a Lane near-post header from a Cooke cross went close before Ian Deakin made a good catch from another right-flank cross but generally the Bucks looked well capable of securing full points.
However, in the 86th minute, a catastrophic error by Kallum Keane, moved at half-time into centre defence, presented Lane with a chance he couldn’t miss. Thereafter the Dabbers went close to victory and Deakin had to be at his best to tip over a powerful 30-yard free-kick by substitute Christian Smith.
Team: Deakin, Black, Haggerty (Towey 45), Roberts, Sandwith, Keane, Thornhill (Reed 50), Istead, Duncum (Maxfield 58), Morris, Lugsden.