Billard’s heroics in seven-goal thriller

Whitby Town v Buxton. Photo: Brian Murfield.
Whitby Town v Buxton. Photo: Brian Murfield.
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Whitby Town 3, Buxton 4

WHATEVER Adam Billard’s Buxton future holds in store for him, the newly-signed keeper will surely have an abiding place in Silverlands folklore!

With his very first touch for the club he saved Jimmy Beadle’s well-struck 85th-minute penalty kick and ensured that his new team won its first league game in three months.

Whitby Town v Buxton

Whitby Town v Buxton

But this was only the last of many incidents in what must rank as one of the most action-packed Buxton matches of recent times, with both sets of players deserving great credit for serving up fine fare in wintry weather of a strong, corner-to-corner wind that hurried in frequent squalls of rain and hail on a bitterly cold afternoon.

It was Beadle, in the very first minute, who provided a rousing start to this bottom-four encounter, sending a 25-yard piledriver into a top corner, but Buxton’s Steve Ridley went close almost at once with a low drive from similar range and the visitors equalised ten minutes later.

From a Ridley corner, Mark Reed, who had en-route spent an hour in a Cheshire motorway jam, nonetheless scored with a typically athletic overhead kick that hit a defender on its way into goal.

Only four minutes later Whitby regained the lead from the penalty spot, with Jamie Clark’s fierce strike hitting the same place as Beadle’s earlier. A defensive error on the right had forced Sam Liversidge into a desperate tackle on striker Appleby and referee Mr Diccico deemed it a foul.

Twenty-four minutes elapsed before Buxton’s second equaliser arrived but in the meantime both sides provided rich entertainment with slick passing soccer.

The visitors’ best moves were developed on the left where loanees Baxendale and debutant striker Bradley Barraclough created several openings, but it was Josh Wilde from that flank who made the pass for Reed to fire into the roof of the net from 20 yards, leaving Buxton’s talismanic captain just one goal away from being the first player to score 200 for the club.

Encouraged by this recovery, the Bucks created another attack on the left and in the second minute of added time Barraclough gave them the lead. He turned sharply onto his right foot to net low and firmly through a crowded six-yard box.

The third quarter of the match saw Buxton strangely unable to regain their earlier form and Whitby seized the initiative despite now facing the elements and the visitors’ introduction of the more combative Neil Stevens to central midfield.

It was therefore no surprise when a four-man Whitby passing move resulted in an equalising goal as striker Clarke’s 62nd-minute, accurate low shot found a corner of the net.

Town continued to press, but the Bucks forced their first corner kick of the half on 72 minutes, and four minutes later scored what proved to be the winning goal.

Liversidge delivered a fine ball into the penalty area, allowing the ever-dangerous Baxendale to feed Kieran Lugsden on the left and Buxton’s leading scorer netted low and confidently from ten yards. Just two minutes earlier, his header from a Ridley corner had been cleared from the line.

Then came the highly dramatic climax to this utterly enthralling encounter.

Keeper Hartley miscued Grant Black’s back-pass and when the ball ballooned into the air, Whitby seized the opportunity to attack on the right.

Hartley rashly dashed from goal and his challenge downed substitute Blackford for the Seasiders to receive a second penalty award.

While the keeper escaped even a caution for the foul, he saw red for the nature of his protest to set-up Billard’s moment of glory, which broke Whitby’s hearts and allowed the early Christmas present for new player-manager Scott Maxfield of a first league victory under his leadership.

Whitby, meanwhile, having scored seven goals in their last two games without the reward of even a single point, face an uphill task to escape relegation.

Buxton: Hartley, Black, Liversidge, Agus, Wilde, Lugsden, Banks (Stevens, 52), Ridley, Baxendale, Reed, Barraclough (Billard, 85). Unused substitutes: Towey, Taylor, Maxfield. Attendance: 214.