Freeman says Bucks have a point to prove

Buxton FC, Clive Freeman
Buxton FC, Clive Freeman

Evo-Stik Premier Division

Buxton FC 1

Ashton United 1

CLIVE Freeman believes Buxton FC have a point to prove tomorrow (Friday) against Burscough after their promotion challenge stuttered with a scrappy draw against Ashton United.

And the assistant manager revealed how boss John Reed gave his players ‘the Alex Ferguson hairdryer treatment’ after Tuesday night’s first half performance at the Silverlands against Ashton. The game finished 1-1 after goals from Mark Reed and Aaron Burns.

Freeman told the Advertiser afterwards: “We were really poor in the first half, and at half time the gaffer went absolutely ballistic. It was a real Alex Ferguson hairdryer moment in there.

“I think they were the best team in the first half and we perhaps shaded the second half. We should have really put them to bed, but let them back into it. Overall, a draw was perhaps a fair result.

“I believe we let ourselves down a little bit tonight, and I think the players know that. Hopefully they will now go away and think about that, because they’ve got a point to prove on Friday.”

More worryingly for Buxton is their mounting injury worries ahead of the Burscough game, a list which currently includes Michael Towey, Josh Wilde, Tommy Agus, Matt Heywood and, following the Ashton game, Scott Maxfield and Martin Pembleton. The Bucks could only field three substitutes on Tuesday night.

“Over the past few games we have really had to put the shifts in, and I can’t help thinking that this came back to haunt us tonight,” Freeman added. “The games are coming thick and fast now, and we just have to pick ourselves up.

“I’m going to be looking for more commitment than what the players showed in the first half. The second half was better, and if we can build on that performance, and get two or three players back, then that should give us a lift for Friday.”

Buxton almost made the perfect start against Ashton when, on five minutes, Josh Wilde exchanged passes with Kieran Lugsden before delivering an accurate cross which Reed headed straight at the keeper.

The striker had better luck when played in by Steve Ridley on 23 minutes, getting the best of his marker before confidently curling a left-footed shot into the net to give the Bucks the lead.

But slowly they allowed Ashton back into the game, and the visitors ended the half the stronger, equalising four minutes before half time when Burns was given time and space to turn in the box before firing a shot across the face of Scott Hartley’s goal and into his far corner.

This was no more than the visitors deserved, after Matty O’Neill had earlier hit the woodwork after a bracing run through midfield, and Marlin Piana bottled a one-on-one chance, scuffing his shot wide.

O’Neill also caused problems in the box with his long throws, while Grant Black was Buxton’s hero after the break, clearing off the line during a mammoth goalmouth scramble.

The introduction of Sam Johnson with 20 minutes to go seemed to add fresh impetus to the Bucks. Soon after, Terry Smith tipped a 30-yard volley by Neil Stevens over the bar, and then the midfielder’s bullet header, from a Reed cross from the right, was also palmed away by the keeper at full stretch.

Minutes later, Reed chased down a ball over the top from Wilde, seemingly a lost cause, before flashing a cross into a penalty area devoid of Bucks players.

And their evening was summed up in stoppage time when captain Gregg Anderson headed a corner straight at the keeper.

Buxton: Hartley, Black, Wilde, Liversidge, Anderson (c), Maxfield (Pembleton, 36; Askey, 49), Ovington (Johnson, 70), Stevens, Reed, Lugsden, Ridley. Att: 246.

* Buxton’s home match against Burscough has been switched to tomorrow night (Friday, March 25) to accommodate Saturday’s international match. Kick-off at the Silverlands is 7.45pm.

Next Wednesday (March 30, kick-off 7.45pm), the Bucks have another match against one of the division’s top teams with the visit of North Ferriby United.