Buxton off the mark as they see off Blyth Spartans

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On Saturday Buxton achieved a first National League North victory of the season as they beat third-placed visitors Blyth Spartans 3-0, writes Tony Tomlinson.

In 2022/23 the two clubs produced three action-packed encounters including 12 goals and the latest meeting was another open, entertaining affair.

The victory was ultimately convincing but Spartans' determination to respond to the Bucks' first-half goals kept the outcome in doubt till late in the day.

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In this game the Bucks equalled the goal output of their first four outings and much was due to their forwards.

Sam Osborne celebrates the third goal.Sam Osborne celebrates the third goal.
Sam Osborne celebrates the third goal.

Though substituted just after three-quarters time, Sam Smart offered a threat on the right but the goals were contributed by his forward colleagues, full debutant Jake Wright and left-winger Sam Osborne, who was returning after pre-season injury to net a brace and earn the NLP's man-of-the-match nomination.

Both men impressed, with Osborne matching his fine debut performance at Spennymoor close to a year ago.

The Bucks were soon looking more threatening than of late with promising work on both flanks, but the early exchanges were even and home 'keeper Max Dearnley was forced into a good save and was then fortunate that midfielder Deverdics shot weakly at him from eight yards following a free-kick.

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However, the game's complexion was irrevocably changed by two goals inside three minutes. Osborne was already making an impact but it was Smart's neat one-two with Connor Kirby that set up the winger for a firm, angled shot that was parried by Alex Mitchell.

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The keeper should then have done better when Osborne won the ball and netted a 35th-minute tap-in.

Almost at once, the best passing move of the match flowed swiftly on Buxton's right flank for Wright to force the ball home close to goal at the Ashwood End. Blyth hit back and Deverdics launched a lofted corner-kick that somehow cleared everyone.

Early in the second half injury to Xander McBurnie forced a Buxton system change to 4-4-2 as Spartans gradually gained a majority of possession.

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The newly-returned Cedric Main, on loan from York City, was the focal point for the visitors' attack.

But it was his opposite number, Jake Wright, who was harshly denied a potential scoring chance by fussy referee Sawden, who seemed to see most of the physical contacts as fouls yet denied the visitors a second-half penalty after a meaty coming-together of defender and attacker.

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His interpretation of recent FA edicts also seemed extreme as of five home players cautioned, just one was for a foul.

Substitutions were made as Blyth did most of the pressing, though Mitchell was forced to parry Kirby's fiercely-struck 28-yard drive, while Osborne's imaginative, 40-yard lob over the 'keeper struck the outside of a post.

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The winger did, however, have the last word deep into added time. Attacking substitute Eoin McKeown's superb pass released Jak McCourt on the right and from his accurate, low delivery, Osborne tapped in at the undefended far post.

So, unlike last season's meeting here when Spartans turned the tables in added time, the Bucks confirmed a victory and, going back to 21st January and the visit of Hereford, the success was the 12th consecutive home game without defeat.