Bucks are held to a draw at Southport

After twice leading in this mid-table, wind-blown encounter on Saturday, Buxton came within five minutes of achieving a 10th away win of the season and of inflicting a 12th home defeat on Southport.
Ben Andreucci, pictured in action for Leeds United prior to his move to Bolton, scored both of Buxton's goals.Ben Andreucci, pictured in action for Leeds United prior to his move to Bolton, scored both of Buxton's goals.
Ben Andreucci, pictured in action for Leeds United prior to his move to Bolton, scored both of Buxton's goals.

There were four goals but each had an element of ill-fortune or defensive frailty rather than being the product of constructive passing play, of which there was a distinct dearth. Yet Buxton's goals were clinically netted by the fit-again teenager Ben Andreucci.

There were four changes for the Bucks, two of them enforced. Curtis Weston replaced the suspended McCourt as the midfield anchor and Sam Minihan returned on the right in place of the injured Dylan Mottley-Henry, while Bolton loanee Andreucci and Jake Wright were partnered as the strike force, with Tommy Elliott and Diego De Girolamo demoted to the subs' bench.

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Just short of the half-hour, Josh Granite replaced Connor Brown, who was seemingly afflicted by the same injury suffered late on the previous Saturday.

By then the Bucks had taken an 18th-minute lead in somewhat fortuitous fashion. Thus far they had shaded possession without establishing a pattern of play, but from Adam Livingstone's low cross, veteran 'keeper McMillan spilled the ball and when it found its way to Andreucci he unerringly buried the opportunity from 12 yards to justify manager Craig Elliott's decision to restore him immediately to the starting 11.

The hosts enjoyed a good spell mid-way through the half. A foul on Joe Young towards the edge of his penalty area went unpunished but Burgess shot over the bar from 20 yards, then the same player hit the bar from similar range before the Buxton 'keeper saved and held a firm, low shot and did even better to block Bennett's shot when he was played clear by Granite's under-hit back-pass.

The Sandgrounders were creating scoring chances and the best came in the 38th minute when the unfortunate Granite was deemed guilty of handball, at three yards' range, from a waist-high, left-flank cross. Danny Lloyd-McGoldrick, who first faced the Bucks for AFC Fylde just short of a decade ago, netted confidently from the penalty-spot.

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That was Southport's major piece of good fortune and Buxton's followed just two minutes into the second half. Both referee and assistant missed a clear hand-ball in the visitors' approach play but Andreucci beat his man superbly to fire low from 18 yards across McMillan into the far side netting.

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Without sitting back on their lead, the visitors found themselves having to defend, with both Max Hunt and Granite excelling in denying Lloyd, then Young twice made saves, firstly in snatching the ball from Carver's toes, then in making a tip-over save in the 80th minute.

Soon afterwards, on the counter, Buxton put together their most significant passing move as Joe Ackroyd and Connor Kirby, on the left, set up Wright, who skilfully changed feet but, from a narrow angle, placed his attempted finishing shot across the face of goal and narrowly wide of the far post.

As the clock reached 90 and the Bucks' victory seemed just about safe, Southport had a free-kick close to half-way. Throughout the second half Lloyd had taken all the free-kicks and corners for the hosts, but on this occasion it was left-back Doyle who launched the free-kick into the heart of Buxton's rearguard and when no defender could take the initiative, Bennett netted from close range.

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In added time, out of the blue, the experienced home players Burgess and Carver lost self-discipline to earn straight red cards but it was too late from which Buxton could profit.

Without doubt, the end-to-end play and added-time drama made the game's last quarter-hour comfortably its best.