Bucks face ‘make or break’ Easter weekend

Paul Phillips lamented his team's inability to kill the game off at Marine.
Paul Phillips lamented his team's inability to kill the game off at Marine.

Buxton boss Paul Phillips believes his side’s destiny will be decided over Easter as they pursue a play-off place.

Last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Marine saw the Bucks drop back out of the play-off places and they are now two points behind fifth-placed Gainsborough with three games to play.

Two of those games will take place over the weekend as Buxton host relegation-threatened Workington on Saturday before travelling to local rivals Matlock Town on Bank Holiday Monday.

And with play-off rivals also facing tough games, Phillips believes it will be a key weekend.

He said: “I think this weekend will decide where our destiny lies.

“It’s not just our games - our rivals have difficult encounters too and whilst the final positions won’t be decided, we’ll either be in with a great chance or no chance of making the top five when we host Warrington on the final day.

“Getting a play-off place is out of our hands mathematically but we have to ensure we do all we can to win our games and be in a position to capitalise if others slip up.”

Gainsborough are the most likely team Buxton could overtake with them being only two points ahead. Nantwich Town are fourth and seven points ahead of the Bucks, while Scarborough Athletic are four points behind Phillips’ men.

Gainsborough will play Hednesford Town at home on Friday and then travel to Grantham on Saturday.

Their final game will beat home to title-chasing South Shields on April 27.

Phillips said: “With Gainsborough playing on Friday, we’ll have more of an idea where we are on Saturday but either way, we just need to keep winning our games.”

Saturday’s draw at Marine saw the Bucks dominate the game but only register one goal thanks to John Pritchard, only for Brett Mbalanda to equalise five minutes later.

Phillips said: “It was really disappointing but the game summed up our season.

“We had probably15 clear chances, including several in the first 15 minutes, and should have had the game killed off by half-time.

“But once again we haven’t taken enough of our chances and have been punished by what I think was Marine’s only shot on goal.

“Marine’s manager said we’re the best team they’ve faced all season but it’s something I’m getting tired of hearing when we haven’t won a game.

“We’ve dropped too many points from winning positions and I’ve told the players that if we don’t go up, that will be the biggest reason why.

“I can’t fault the players too much as it’s not for the want of trying - they don’t miss chances deliberately - but the whole team needs to be scoring more, whether it’s the big lads at set pieces or the strikers.

“The next three games will be a good time to put that right.

“I’m confident that whichever league we’re in next season, we’ll be well prepared and a better team for this experience and with a few good additions will be much stronger.”