Buxton see off high-flying Nantwich to close in on top places

Buxton goalscorer Ash Burbeary.
Buxton goalscorer Ash Burbeary.

Buxton achieved a deserved eighth victory in 10 games and the season’s second ‘double’ with a 3-1 win over high-riding Nantwich on Monday afternoon to complete a highly satisfying holiday weekend and continue their charge back towards the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division’s leading places.

This gripping, richly entertaining encounter was indeed a ‘six-pointer’ with Buxton starting five positions and nine points adrift of the Dabbers, yet with three fixtures in hand.

While the visitors were virtually at full strength, the Bucks took the field without their two injured senior keepers, placing their faith in teenage full debutant Myles Wright, who did all that could have been expected of him and was most unfortunate to concede an unwitting own goal.

Alastair Taylor (suspended) and Tom Buckley (ill) were also absent while Alex Wiles was well enough only for the bench, yet Martin McIntosh’s men were boosted by a second minute strike, and produced a whole-hearted, disciplined display with a trio of well-taken goals netted at crucial times.

As expected, Nantwich proved difficult opponents, their forward probes, played mostly on the ground, featured pace, power and purpose but their defence was made to look vulnerable by Buxton’s in-form attack, which has now bagged 14 goals in four consecutive victories.

For once, however, the win was not secured by the strikes of their 33-goal scoring twins and the star attacker was arguably left-back Jamie Green with his two assists with perfectly-delivered, inswinging corners in each half for well-executed headed goals.

Buxton’s opening goal, their fastest of the season, resulted from a free-kick on the right, with the ball reaching Ash Burbeary via a defender’s deflection and the midfielder picked his spot, firing a clinical low shot from 15 yards across the keeper.

The Dabbers’ response was immediate and to around the half-hour mark they dominated, but dogged home defence kept them out, though Hardy’s looping header from Burbeary’s long-struck free-kick went close.

The dangerous Kosylo cut in from the left, weaving past three challenges, but Wright made sure there was no space at the near post for the low shot to penetrate.

The keeper then made a good low save and hold from White’s firm 18-yard drive, but when a half-clearance fell to Cooke 20 yards out, the curled effort passed narrowly wide.

Gradually, however, the Bucks developed as an attacking force, and when Burbeary robbed Bailey deep in Town territory, Barraclough was close to wriggling between two defenders. There was a similar outcome when Hardy’s diagonal pass reached him.

Greg Young went closer as a Green free-kick fell to his feet 19 yards out, but Burzynski tipped the fierce, goal-bound drive over the bar for a corner, from which Joel doubled his side’s advantage and his personal tally for the season with a powerful seven-yard header into the roof of the net followed by a joyously athletic celebration.

Again Nantwich responded positively and at the end of added time halved their arrears.

Hall’s 20-yard blast seared past the diving Wright to strike the underside of the bar and fall onto the grounded keeper to roll a yard over the line for a most undeserved own goal.

Buxton started the second period in positive fashion with Niall Doran’s shot forcing a corner and their cause received a major boost just three minutes in with the dismissal of Cooke for his treatment of Ravenhill.

Nantwich seemed to lose belief and drive, but Buxton pressed on, realising their need for a third goal.

Barraclough got to the by-line to produce a dangerous low pull-back that Burzynski grasped at the second attempt while Burbeary’s free-kick was deflected for a corner from which Barraclough’s stooping header passed narrowly wide.

Then in the 70th minute another Green flag-kick did the trick with Warren Burrell rising out of a pack to head home firmly from six yards.

Town’s management shuffled their attack with the introduction of former Northern Ireland international Steve Jones,and ex-Witton winger Josh Hancock.

But there was no way back and Buxton’s only setback was a second yellow card and therefore dismissal for Glenn Belezika.

BUXTON: Wright; Belezika, J. Bembo Leta, Young, Green; Doran, Ravenhill, Burrell, Burbeary; Barraclough (F. Bembo-Leta 90), Hardy (Worsfold 63). Subs not used: Grayson, Wiles.