Liam Hardy hat-trick fires Buxton to convincing win over Barwell

Hat-trick hero Liam Hardy.
Hat-trick hero Liam Hardy.
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A quick-fire hat-trick by Liam Hardy, which was one of the fastest in the club’s history, and a Bradley Barraclough brace sealed a 5-1 win for Buxton at home to Barwell.

Ironically, though rain had caused the two recent abandonments, it probably saved this fixture by dispersing the pre-match fog, at least until half-time, after which referee Plowright correctly allowed the match to run its course in the returning but not dense murk.

That decision was very much with the approval of the hard-core `faithful’ who enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining,open and end-to-end encounter in which ninth-placed Barwell played a full part.

Before Hardy’s match-changing strikes either side of the interval, the exchanges had been generally even with both teams making scoring chances amidst plentiful goalmouth action.

Hardy could have opened his scoring account as early as the very first minute with an 18-yard drive pushed around a post by ‘keeper Castle as Buxton started well.The momentum was maintained and the recalled Barraclough’s persistence was rewarded in the 11th minute with a finish from six yards out.

Barwell, with games in hand following an FA Cup run to the first round proper, showed some quality in response but were soon denied what seemed a clear penalty award for a Greg Young challenge.

Phil Barnes did well to parry a delayed shot by Tomkinson, who followed by placing a 15-yard shot fractionally wide.

A skimming Alex Wiles 25-yarder forced a near-post save at the expense of a corner-kick and he and `Barra’ set up Hardy for a turn and shot directly at Castle before Barwell’s Story headed a left-flank cross over the bar.

In added time, however, Hardy’s opportunism took the game away from the visitors with twin close-range strikes as `the Bucks’ probed deep into Barwell’s defence.

Remarkably he completed his hat-trick just 38 seconds into the second half.

Buxton broke forward convincingly on the left for Hardy to stride on and rifle a 20-yard drive into the roof of the net to make it 4-0.

It was almost five when a rattled visiting defender was close to an own goal when diverting a Hardy cross from the right.

Alastair Taylor’s fine pass set up Hardy again, but this time he skied his shot.

Barwell’s attacks paid off in the 55th minute and, even though Barnes foiled a through ball, Tomkinson latched onto the rebound to net comfortably.

Another visiting goal at this stage could have ruffled `the Bucks’ composure, but they defended resolutely and the match lost some of its drive in the last quarter.

Fortunately there was to be a memorable final flourish with arguably the best team goal of the evening.

It was started off by the tireless Warren Burrell deep in central midfield, substitute Niall Doran continued the move up the left to set up a low cross by the overlapping Burrell for Barraclough to net at the near-post.

As for the Hardy hat-trick, its speed rivals the one, timed at 3 minutes,41.8 seconds, netted by living legend Mark Reed in January 2013 in the 6-2 home win versus Stocksbridge Park Steels.