Fifth defeat in six as Buxton fall to defeat at Morpeth Town

Buxton suffered a fifth reversal in six games to slip a place in the Northern Premier League to fifth, writes Tony Tomlinson.

Monday, 24th January 2022, 1:48 pm
New signing Mackenzie Heaney made his debut in the defeat at Morpeth.
New signing Mackenzie Heaney made his debut in the defeat at Morpeth.

Yet the story of a most disappointing outcome is that the visitors made more clear chances than the hosts, who were clinical in opening the scoring in the 52nd minute and were then gifted a penalty kick that was expertly converted, followed by a classic own goal.

The result bore scant resemblance to the high-quality attacking football played by the Bucks for all but the quarter-hour after the first goal, and particularly in the first half when they made and missed three good chances, while Morpeth, the Highwaymen had just one.

On the splendid new 3G pitch two good footballing teams richly entertained the appreciative crowd, with Buxton shading first-half possession as all 11 starters looked the part in a display that promised much but failed to produce the deserved lead.

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Midfielder Chris Dawson and striker Jason Gilchrist replaced Nathan Fox and the transferred James Hurst, with Warren Clarke attacking and defending well at left-back, but it was Matt Curley and Ash Chambers on the right flank who created a fourth-minute clear opening for the centrally-placed Tommy Elliott, who side-footed over the bar from 10 yards.

The Bucks continued to attack fluently, seeing a shot blocked and Gilchrist firing fiercely but narrowly wide from 20 yards, before Clarke at the quarter-hour muffed another good chance from a fine Ryan Taylor pass, by sending an angled shot weakly at goalkeeper Lowson.

Morpeth, who achieved a major FA Trophy victory over Boston a week ago, did have a 17th-minute goal chance after Clarke slipped on the watered surface, but fine Theo Richardson work denied Foalle. Back to the other end and still in the opening quarter the visitors created two more incisive moves, with the second, set up by Taylor and Chambers, falling to Jamie Ward, who hooked his shot high over the bar in an incident that was typical of a rare off-day in the charismatic attacker's finishing.

There followed an utterly bizarre incident with dreadfully inconsistent Gateshead-based referee Hopper centre-stage.

Theo was correctly allowed to take a goal-kick with home forward Foalle off the pitch and seemingly entangled in the pitch surround, but as the play developed the referee whistled to allow the stranded player time to free himself. Yet in the second half Jamie Ward was grounded and lying injured for half a minute with no refereeing intervention until Curley deliberately put the ball out of play.

Buxton made a promising start to the second half and a lofted Elliott free-kick close to the by-line glanced off the far post to safety, but immediately at the other end Morpeth took the lead with in-form striker Henderson netting confidently after several visiting defenders collectively and fatally backed off Foalle 20 yards out, allowing him to make the decisive pass. Town enjoyed their sole spell in charge and a 68th-minute Taylor foul brought a correct penalty award that allowed the experienced Noble to net convincingly.

It looked all over for the Bucks, yet their undoubtedly gritty character not only brought them back into contention but also into chance-creating mode with the hope of an unlikely recovery. However, they again found no reward as a result of wayward finishing, Chambers played a fine pass but Ward's low cross was deflected behind the onrushing Elliott, then Ward twice shot at the 'keeper and Elliott passed a decent chance wide of the target.

Remarkably, the theme continued as Clarke's outstanding pace took him to the by-line but good defending thwarted the low cut-back and from a 79th-minute counter-attack on the right a low cross was diverted into his own net by sliding substitute Josh Granite, on for 'dead-leg' victim Dan Cowan.

Yet despite this ultimate misfortune the Bucks weren't finished as an attacking force. From a corner-kick, Turner headed the ball back and down but Gilchrist shot over the bar.

Therefore, missed chances galore on this occasion but a total of 15 goals conceded in the last six matches is a deeper-seated cause of the totally unexpected recent disappointments. However, 'the faithful' should take encouragement from the fact that with possession the Bucks still look capable of beating the best.