Battling Buxton go down fighting

Evo-Stik Premier Division: Bradford Park Avenue 3, Buxton FC 1

TWO GOALS inside three minutes early in the second half effectively put the game out of Buxton’s reach in West Yorkshire on Monday, but for most of the match the Bucks proved equal to fifth-placed Avenue.

The visitors even shaded a majority of possession prior to the interval and might well have pulled the score back to 3-2 in the last quarter of the game, but overall Bradford made more of the few openings they created.

Martin McIntosh gave a debut to Sanchez Payne and used Nabil Brahim-Bounab in a defensive midfield role, while Josh Wilde had made a remarkable recovery from Saturday’s injury and it was on the left flank that the Bucks made early inroads.

Fine work by Michael Towey took him to the by-line but he overhit his cross, then Steve Istead forced a corner and Wilde progressed on the left without finding a team-mate in the danger area.

At the other end Buxton defended soundly and in the opening half-hour limited the men in green to just one shot at goal, a 20-yard drive by the newly-signed midfielder Mark Hudson straight to Scott Hartley.

Then occurred two match-changing events inside five minutes.

A promising Buxton attack on the right ended with a tackle on Kieran Lugsden that saw the visitors in vain strongly claiming a penalty, but Bradford hit back to take the lead. A cross-field pass picked out Richard Marshall on the right and advancing into the penalty area his firm, low drive across Hartley found the bottom corner of the net.

The Bucks responded positively with the game proceeding much as before and just three minutes into the second half they had a goal ruled out. A Neil Stevens free-kick was headed on and Marc Roberts headed home, but from an offside position.

Within five minutes Park Avenue led 3-0. Bounab could only half-clear a free-kick and midfielder Nathan Hotte had the necessary technique to fire the ball into the net from 16 yards.

Almost immediately Bradford scored again and the goal was unusual in featuring both centre-backs. James Knowles’ cross on the left was headed home by his defensive partner, James Riley.

Rocked by these setbacks the visitors then had to hack away a fierce Deacey drive close to goal, but in the last quarter of the match got back into contention.

The ever-dangerous Bradley Barraclough was unceremoniously and indisputably felled and Mark Reed, who had just come on, scored confidently from the spot, sending John Lamb the wrong way.

Buxton’s record goalscorer then had a chance to step up the pressure on a by-now nervy Bradford.

Towey broke out from defence faced by just two defenders, advanced rapidly and passed well into space on his left but the striker’s first touch 25 yards out gave the advantage to the defenders. Thereafter Reed had a goal-bound shot blocked and Barraclough fired over, as did Reed from an added-time free-kick from distance.

Defeated maybe but far from disgraced, Buxton will now look to three consecutive ‘six-pointers’ versus basement rivals to haul themselves away from the relegation zone.

Buxton: Hartley, Stevens, Wilde, Brahim-Bounab, Hawes, Roberts, Lugsden, Towey, Barraclough, Istead, Payne. Subs: Agus, Reed (Payne), Ridley, Davidson, Turner. Att: 315.