Buxton ease past Ashton United to retain top spot in Northern Premier League table

Three well-crafted and superbly-taken goals ensured that Buxton retained the league leadership with a 3-0 win at home to Ashton United, writes Tony Tomlinson.

Buxton celebrate their opening goal in the 3-0 win over Ashton. It leaves them two points clear of Matlock at the top of the NPL table.
Buxton celebrate their opening goal in the 3-0 win over Ashton. It leaves them two points clear of Matlock at the top of the NPL table.

Unchanged from Tuesday's victory against Scarborough, apart from the addition of newcomer Jason Gilchrist to the substitutes' bench, the Bucks produced another excellent performance despite difficult weather conditions.

Attacking the Ashwood End with the wind behind them, the hosts might have taken the lead in the ninth minute as Jamie Ward was played through but goalkeeper Hartley made a flying save only for the ball to fall to Halifax loanee winger, Dom Tear, who drove the rebound over the bar.

Otherwise, Ashton made a good start,s mothering Buxton's creative ability in midfield until the 19th minute when Tommy Elliott swept a fine pass out to Ward on the right. He cut inside on his left foot to drill a superb, low shot into the far bottom corner for the 15th goal of what is fast becoming a remarkable campaign for the former Northern Ireland international. The roles were reversed 14 minutes on with Ward figuring in a flowing passing move that set up Elliott for a neat finish, as he ghosted in unmarked.

The second half was deja vu for the Bucks as the weather deteriorated ,with driving rain and a strengthening wind in their faces, as had been the case versus Morecambe.

They were also handicapped in the third quarter by the loss to injury, one after another, of Nathan Fox, Chris Dawson and Warren Clarke, but in the 75th minute scored again to ensure there was no late Ashton recovery. Tommy Elliott was again the architect with a brilliant through ball that was ultimately finished firmly avoiding a forest of legs by Dom Tear.

The second half saw the introduction of the weekend's signing from York City, St. Helens-born striker Jason Gilchrist, who grew steadily into the action as Buxton reasserted themselves in the last quarter. A Ward pass set him up for a snap shot that went well wide but then a power-drive was well saved, giving promise of better things to come.

Despite the final score, the visitors were major contributors to the afternoon's considerable entertainment, but were thrice denied by Theo Richardson, who made excellent goalkeeping look commonplace. In the 16th minute he made a splendid stop close in from Macadam and then at 1-0 he came out to thwart the ever-lively striker Yonsian,a s he latched onto Macadam's piercing pass. Then at 3-0 he kept his 'lean sheet again by advancing to save at the expense of a corner, as Yonsian sought to profit from a through ball.

Unexpected home defeats for close rivals Bamber Bridge and South Shields more than offset Matlock's success at Stalybridge to give the Bucks a two point lead with a game in hand ahead of next Saturday's attractive home fixture versus FC United, victory in which offers the prospect of going five points clear at the top.

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