Barraclough strikes Olympic gold for Buxton at Rushall

GOLDEN BOY -- Bradley Barraclough, whose 17th of the season was the only goal of the game in Buxtons win at Rushall Olympic.
GOLDEN BOY -- Bradley Barraclough, whose 17th of the season was the only goal of the game in Buxtons win at Rushall Olympic.

A typically sharp but neat piece of finishing by Bradley Barraclough for his 17th goal of the season earned Buxton a deserved 1-0 victory at ten-man Rushall Olympic on Saturday.

Fellow mid-tablers Rushall began the day just above the Bucks in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Premier Division table, but Barraclough downed the West Midlanders with a strike in the 51st minute -- after home centre-half Michael Townsend had been sent off.

The unchanged visitors, particularly well served by their midfield quartet, enjoyed most of the possession and built a number of fluent moves, especially when playing up the slope in the second half. The only reason they were restricted to just the one goal was the dry, bobbly, end-of-season pitch, which made ball-control very difficult.

Buxton fancied their chances against a Rushall side who had made a gruelling trip to Workington less than 48 hours earlier, and they soon assumed control.

Clear scoring opportunities were few, but the visitors were boosted in the 33rd minute when a challenge by Townsend was deemed worthy of a straight red card by the referee, who had already dismissed an irate home bench official from the touchline in an earlier incident.

The goal arrived six minutes after the break. A square, low and accurate pass by Niall Doran fed Barraclough, who turned for a classy, left-footed strike from 18 yards.

More could have followed. Spencer Harris twice saw firm shots blocked, Nicky Walker sent a cross-cum-shot across the face of goal and pressure began to tell on Rushall’s Bristol Rovers loanee ‘keeper Kieran Preston, who seemed less than comfortable with the ball at his feet.

Another on-loan Football League player, Crewe Alexandra’s Andre Brown, was well marshalled by Joel Bembo-Leta, and although 20-goal striker Luke Benbow was a consistent threat, he failed to trouble Buxton’s sound stand-in ‘keeper Tom Stewart.

This Saturday, Martin McIntosh’s troops are back at Silverlands for the visit of relegation-threatened Hyde United. They are also at home next Tuesday night when they take on eighth-placed Frickley Athletic.

BUXTON LINE-UP -- Stewart/ Bembo-Leta J./ Young, Green, Wiles, Ravenhill, Harris, Doran, Walker, Barraclough, Worsfold. SUBS: Bembo-Leta F., Grayson, Doyle, Wright (all unused).