Evo-Stik Premier Division
Bradford Park Avenue 4, Buxton FC 1
BUXTON’S return to league action in last Wednesday’s hastily-arranged fixture proved to be an exercise in gale management, but it was Bradford who adapted far better in both halves to claim full points.
With Gregg Anderson dropped to the bench, Grant Black won the toss and elected to face the downfield wind, but within three minutes his team was a goal adrift without having once got into Bradford’s half.
The home side started impressively and scored with a Savory header after their second corner kick was half-cleared back to the taker, Burton, for him to return accurately to the striker.
Park Avenue continued to press, with the Bucks forced into dogged defence and strikers Mark Reed and Kieran Lugsden reduced to chasing scraps.
With the wind ever-strengthening, it was no surprise when Bradford’s advantage was doubled after 20 minutes.
Midfielder Matty James ran onto a long ball and gave Scott Hartley no chance with a well-placed shot from 15 yards.
It took Buxton 31 minutes to mount an attack in numbers as a few passes were at last strung together, while the home team missed chances to extend their lead with full back Plummer and James blazing shots over the target.
Tommy Agus was one player who could successfully drive the ball into the gale and, from his 43rd-minute free kick from halfway, Neil Stevens powered in a low 20-yard shot which keeper Lamb diverted to Michael Towey, who netted his 13th goal of the season from a narrow angle.
After such a pummelling, a 2-1 interval deficit would have been most acceptable to all in the Buxton camp, but Bradford hit back to renew their two-goal advantage in stoppage time.
Debutant Nicky Boshell, who had comfortably stepped up from NCEL soccer, expertly found the top corner of the net with a fiercely-struck, 20-yard free kick, despite referee Denton having meekly allowed the Buxton wall to stand a mere six yards away.
The few minutes prior to half time therefore proved crucial to the outcome.
With the gale still blowing, a Buxton revival was expected but denied by Bradford’s ability to play a fluent passing game at times and by the Bucks’ own failure to develop more than the occasional attack.
Indeed, it was Bradford who first went close to scoring again with Burton missing badly at the far post after Boshell and Savory had forged a left flank move.
Then, ten minutes into the half, the visitors missed their best chance of a recovery.
Heywood played a controlled long ball and Lugsden’s intelligent dummy allowed Reed to fire in a firm, angled drive. Lamb saved, but Towey delayed a follow-up shot and Knowles blocked the effort.
Park Avenue withdrew one of their two strikers in favour of an extra midfielder, a move which further stifled Buxton’s hopes of a reply.
By contrast, Buxton’s substitutions made no improvement with Whight ineffective and Askey starved of possession.
Buxton did twice go close to scoring as a goal-bound Reed shot rebounded to a defender, and a long ball forward saw Lamb slip only for it to pass narrowly wide of the net.
In the closing minutes, Agus was thrown into attack, but this merely allowed slick-passing Bradford to carve open the visiting defence.
One move brought a headed clearance of a James shot by Black on the goal-line, but the midfielder converted expertly on 87 minutes as he passed across Hartley into the far side-netting to make it 4-1.
Even then, the Buxton keeper had to make a fine late save to deny James yet again, as defeat seemed likely to develop into a rout.
Buxton: Hartley, Black, Heywood, Agus, Wilde (Anderson, 71), Stevens (Askey, 62), Towey, Maxfield, Ridley, Reed, Lugsden (Whight, 62). Attendance: 225.