FA Cup Third Qualifying Round
Hednesford Town 2, Buxton FC 2
NEVER-SAY-DIE Buxton battled back from a two-goal interval deficit to earn a deserved second opportunity to make FA Cup progress.
The tie was always an absorbing watch and as the Bucks fought back from such a deficit for the second time this season it ultimately proved to be both pulsating and thrilling with four high-quality goals to please the crowd.
Manager Martin McIntosh stuck with his chosen option for tough away games of a packed midfield and in the first quarter of the match it worked a treat as the visitors dominated possession and looked the side more likely to score.
Marc Roberts, who was soon prominent in thwarting the Pitmen’s few attempts to attack, headed over Town’s bar with a Kevin Sandwith corner-kick, and then in the 19th minute Buxton were within inches of earning a penalty as Barnes fouled the lively Neil Stevens at the right-hand edge of the box.
Goalkeeper Crane flapped at Sandwith’s delivery and from the follow-up Kyle Nix might have chosen to shoot instead of to pass.
It took 22 minutes for Hednesford to force so much as a corner and a good, clean catch began Ian Deakin’s successful afternoon.
However, as the half-hour mark neared, the third-placed Pitmen got into the game and then scored twice in six minutes without the Bucks doing much wrong.
They were set back by two fine strikes by very capable midfielders, the first converted by MacPherson, the ex-Leek and Nantwich player, who hammered home low from 20 yards.
The packed visiting defence had prevented Harvey’s advance but he played the ball back to MacPherson who gave Deakin no chance.
After the keeper had done well to punch away a Town corner, Woolfe made it 2-0 with a clever, curling finish from the right-hand corner of the penalty area into the far side of Deakin’s net.
As Buxton responded, the impressive ex-Northwich midfielder defended well to thwart Sam Duncum and from the resulting corner-kick Roberts’ downward header was saved low by Crane.
Early in the half Hednesford had the opportunity to score a potentially crucial third goal.
Durrell’s drive struck the underside of the bar and the grounded Sandwith made a vital interception, with home centre-half Francis heading wide from the resulting corner-kick.
Just short of the hour Nix put the Bucks back in contention with a superbly-executed free-kick. Substitute Mark Reed was fouled 20 yards out and Nix’s delivery had both power and placement.
The visitors looked particularly dangerous at set-pieces and one preceded the 70th-minute equaliser.
A Roberts long throw was headed back to him on the right by centre-half Bailey and when he crossed the ball the talismanic Reed rose high to head firmly past Crane.
Both sides looked capable of a winner but Deakin’s catching into a lowering sun was outstanding, and then in added time he made the tie’s best save as he blocked Burrell’s drive after Harvey had put him in the clear in the inside-right channel.
Happily for Buxton, the introduction of decade-long nemesis Michael Lennon, formerly of Newcastle Town and Nantwich, had come too late to influence the outcome.
Buxton: Deakin, Black, Roberts, Haggerty (Keane, 63), Sandwith, Stevens, Istead, Nix, Maxfield, Duncum (Reed, 45), Morris (Towey, 90).Unused substitute: Brooker. Attendance: 498.