Buxton held to entertaining draw by promotion rivals South Shields

Buxton played out a 2-2 draw with promotion rivals South Shields at the weekend in front of a bumper crowd, writes Tony Tomlinson.

Sunday, 6th February 2022, 2:21 pm
The ball is hooked off the line to deny Buxton a winner at the end.
The ball is hooked off the line to deny Buxton a winner at the end.

Seeking a double over South Shields, the Bucks lacked suspended play-maker Tommy Elliot as well as long-term injury victim Ben Milnes, with the returning Diego De Girolamo not risked from the bench, but Ash Chambers returned effectively to the starting eleven.

For their part, the in-form visiting Mariners were aiming for a fifth consecutive victory and their attacking approach guaranteed a high-quality encounter.

Faster out of the blocks despite facing the gale, the visitors led inside two minutes. Their first attack was developed on the left and in a scramble midfielder Briggs prodded the ball home from close to the line, after Theo Richardson had saved an initial attempt on goal.

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The visitors continued to press forward and in the eighth minute the powerful ex-Stalybridge forward Osei worked his way along the by-line close to goal before his low pull-back was cut out, then more good Shields approach play from left midfield set up midfielder Lowe for a skimming 20-yard drive that passed narrowly wide.

After a quarter-hour Buxton began to pose a threat with Mackenzie Heaney's powerful 20-yards drive drawing a fine save from 'keeper Boney at the expense of a corner, from which the Bucks equalised. Jamie Ward's high, swirling delivery dropped from the bar for ex-Mariner Jason Gilchrist to get the vital touch. The hosts now settled to their passing game but trouble again in the 25th minute following an unnecessarily conceded corner-kick. Lowe's lofted delivery was met on the half-volley by ex-Cardiff City centre back Bodenham, who found the top corner from eight yards. Buxton responded well and from a neat move, including headed passes, Chris Dawson's hooked 20-yard shot passed close to a post.

Shields began the second half on the front foot with three consecutive corners as the gale strengthened in their favour, but it was a splendid Ward cross from the left which created the first real threat, then Heaney tried a through ball for Gilchrist that was intercepted. For the Mariners, a long Adams cross set up Lowe for a shot wide of goal and the latter's dangerous, wind-assisted free-kick forced Theo into a fine save, who then emphatically punched away a Lowe corner-kick.

Buxton's second equaliser in the 66th minute resulted from a defensive error, profited on by Ash Chambers, just as in the earlier encounter between the teams for the only goal, but this time his perfect pass set up Jamie Ward for a sublime chip over the out-rushing Boney.

The visitors had the next chance when a long 'keeper's punt gave striker Hodgson a headed opportunity but he could merely find Theo, then a header by substitute Kempster was cleared off the line.

Buxton manager Steve Cunningham felt his team's superior fitness enabled it to finish the stronger and Ben Turner went close to securing a winner when he hooked the ball back in from a corner, but that was cleared from the line.