BE DONE by bucks

Paul Phillips
Paul Phillips

Buxton joint-manager Paul Phillips says more and more of the club’s current squad are making him want to keep them at the club as every game passes.

Several impressive displays since Phillips and Steve Halford took over have seen Buxton rise up the Evo-Stik Premier Division table, with a top ten finish now looking likely.

And having taken the helm with the Bucks in 18th place, Phillips is under no illusions as to how much credit the players deserve.

He said: “When we arrived it was hard to tell what kind of group we’d inherited given their league position, but ever since then they’ve been fantastic.

“We were always going to use this time to have a look at everyone and work out who we wanted to keep, but as time has gone by the large marjority of the squad have really shown us that they are worthy of new deals.

“We’ll of course look to bring new faces in as we try and get a good blend of youth and experience, but the amount we need may not be as high as was first thought.

“The players have to want to stay, of course, but I hope they’ve been impressed by how things have picked up. We’ve got deals on the table for one or two and will sit down with others in the coming weeks.”

Striker Liam Hardy has 31 league goals this season and was named in the Evo-Stik Premier Division team of the year. He is one player Phillips and Halford are understandably keen to hold onto.

Phillips said: “He’s undoubtedly one of the best strikers I’ve worked with both as a player and manager.

“His work on and off the pitch is a great example to all strikers and the club means a lot to him, something he’s shown by having been away from it before but then come back.

“A deal is on the table for Liam and it’ll be up to him. That number of goals can be hard to replace, as Steve and I found with Martin Pilkington at Ashton, but we’re hopeful Liam will want to remain here and help move us forward next season.”

The Bucks drew 0-0 with league leaders and title favourites Altrincham on Tuesday night in a game Phillips felt was a good gauge of how far the Bucks team has come.

He said: “No disrespect to Altrincham but I felt we matched them all game and were better than them in some areas.

“In the end our lads have come off disappointed not to have won, which when you consider where Altrincham were and where we were not too long ago, shows how far we’ve come, particularly given we had three or four players missing.”

Buxton complete their home fixtures with the visit of Nantwich Town on Thursday (19th) and then relegated Sutton Coldfield Town on Saturday, the latter having beaten Hednesford Town 4-1 last weekend.

That will be followed by a trip to Lancaster City on Tuesday before the season ends at Whitby Town on April 28.

Phillips added: “We just want to finish as strongly as possible and create good momentum, a winning mentality and a real buzz ahead of next season.

“Steve and I have said all along that had we not been forced to play four games a week so often we might have even had a shot at the play-offs given the form we’ve been in, but whilst it’s ended up just being too much in a physical sense but showed us just what we might be able to achieve next year.”