Buxton beat Hyde United to cut gap on leaders Matlock Town
Buxton achieved a convincing victory on Saturday over struggling Hyde United, to overtake second-placed pre-season title favourites South Shields and move within with two points of neighbours and league leaders, Matlock Town, writes Tony Tomlinson.
By contrast, Hyde suffered an eighth away defeat in nine games but for much of the afternoon didn't resemble relegation candidates. They couldn't match the Bucks, however, who are responding to manager Steve Cunningham's short-term challenge of being top of the table in a fortnight's time.
With the distraction of the televised F.A. Cup tie versus Morecambe still three weeks ahead, the hosts were soon into their stride and after Matt Curley fired over the bar from 20 yards, they took a 10th-minute lead.
Chris Dawson's defence-splitting pass for Jamie Ward was key and when he crossed square and low, centre-back Fagbola lost his footing to present leading scorer Diego De Girolamo with an easy conversion from eight yards.
Buxton continued to dominate the opening quarter but Hyde had rather the better of the second, threatening the home goal with three free-kicks in quick succession, then Theo Richardson's flying save at the near-post angle denied Liam Tongue's shot as he latched onto Mitchell's fine pass.
Tongue should have equalised in the 36th minute when ex-Silverlander Brad Roscoe got past Nathan Fox on the right to fire in a superb, knee-high driven cross, but Hyde's number 10 shot wide from two yards
The in-form Jamie Ward was frequently prominent, mostly on the left, thundering a speculative 40-yard drive narrowly over the bar, then laying on the second goal in the 42nd minute with a low cross that caused a scramble in the Ashwood End goalmouth, before Warren Clarke netted close in.
After half-time Buxton resumed in most positive fashion and after a free-kick at the penalty-box corner, De Girolamo sent a curling shot over the far-post angle.
But he contributed substantially to the third goal in the 54th minute. An overload of men on the left allowed him to send over a waist-high cross that was athletically finished off by Jamie Ward, 10 yards out at the near post.
This pulsating match continued to thrill the bumper crowd as the two sides pressed for goals.
Both keepers had to speed from their respective lines to repel attackers, Warren Clarke was thwarted by good defending after a long, pacey run on the left, while Tongue had a shot deflected for a corner, but the home defence, superbly marshalled as ever by skipper Josh Granite, held firm for a fourth clean sheet sheet in the last five outings.
While Hyde manager Jim Gannon was unavailable for comment, Buxton's Steve Cunningham praised his team's "really professional performance which displayed high energy and much quality, the keys to our success that brought us a third consecutive clean sheet.”
Team: T Richardson, Curley, Fox, Middleton, Granite, Meikle, Ward (Hurst), Dawson (Tear), De Girolamo (Chambers), Elliott, Clarke. Unused subs: Hinds, Dillingham.