In-form Buxton pull off big win at Bradford PA

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Buxton maintained their excellent form with another convincing performance and 4-1 away win at struggling hosts Bradford (Park Avenue) to record a 14th match unbeaten, 13 of them in the Vanarama National League North, writes Tony Tomlinson.

The approach to the fixture was straightforward for Buxton, the only change from the Farsley fixture being the promotion of Sam Osborne as a direct replacement for the injured, unfortunate Warren Clarke.

For Bradford it was much less so. Manager Mark Bower had talked of a 'must-win' match that could be a 'springboard to NLN survival' after consecutive home defeats, but then principal striker Jacob Blyth was loaned to promotion-chasing Darlington, on financial grounds.

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To make matters worse, home attacker Brad Dockerty was lost to injury five minutes before the interval.

Max Conway - first senior goal as Bucks blast Bradford PA.Max Conway - first senior goal as Bucks blast Bradford PA.
Max Conway - first senior goal as Bucks blast Bradford PA.

The visitors from the outset were on the front foot, immediately creating two promising attacks through accurate passing, but they were unable to get shots away.

That became something of a pattern in the first half, with the Bucks clearly the superior force but without working the home keeper sufficiently.

However, Jak McCourt in midfield was prominent, first with a through ball for Osborne, then firing a 25-yard drive narrowly wide.

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A Connor Kirby pass to the right set up Brad Jackson for a piercing low cross that was held by the diving Sykes-Kenworthy.

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Bradford's first serious attempt at goal, just short of the half-hour, followed a free-kick on their left and led to Dockerty's low, 20-yard effort missing the target.

But Buxton then made a trio of openings. Most unusually, Tommy Elliott miskicked from a smartly-taken corner-kick, but Jackson's powerful strike from the inside-left channel severely tested the 'keeper, before the visitors established a 41st-minute lead through Max Conway's first senior, and first Buxton, goal.

He cut in from the left to fire low and powerfully into the far sidenetting.

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The hosts emerged with more intent for the second half and a Longbottom header soon forced McCourt to head away from virtually under the bar.

Two corner-kicks followed prior to a 51st-minute equaliser which came from the penalty-spot, with Longbottom netting confidently after Elliott had been penalised for shirt-pulling

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Much encouraged, home centre-back Sam Fielding (ex-York City) first had a power-drive then a header held by Theo Richardson.

But the Bucks responded just short of the hour with a spectacular second goal.

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Set up by Jake Hull's incisive pass, Brad Jackson chipped neatly from the by-line for Kirby to net bravely with a diving header from eight yards, his first goal since mid-December.

That goal restored Buxton's dominance of the play.

Another Jackson lofted cross narrowly evaded the well-placed Joe Ackroyd, but in the 68th minute the winger himself found the net from 25 yards, via a vain attempt to save by the keeper.

The last 25 minutes proved very difficult for the already-beaten and seemingly relegation-bound Avenue as Buxton continued to press forward.

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An Elliott shot was blocked, with Kirby unable to muster sufficient power for his follow-up shot, then McCourt, Jackson and Connor Brown fashioned a pleasing move to force a corner, from which substitute Diego De Girolamo, off balance, shot wide.

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However, on his 100th start for BFC, Tommy Elliott made it 4-1 in the 85th minute, sweeping home low and impressively from 15 yards after receiving Diego's pass.

This wasn't Buxton's first win at the Horsfall Stadium but it was the biggest, taking the club into positive goal-difference territory and also one place higher to ninth.

This Saturday the Bucks are at home to close rivals Spennymoor Town, seeking a third double of the season.