Lone shot so close to halting Rangers

Evo-Stik Premier Division

Stafford Rangers 2, Buxton 2

A THOROUGHLY eventful evening at Marston Road saw the Bucks share four goals, but the abiding thought is that the one point should really have been three after Rangers were reduced to ten men as early as the 50th minute.

Buxton, who were without the injured Mark Reed, the suspended Scott Maxfield and the unfit Michael Towey and Kyle Nix, failed to capitalise on this advantage and themselves had two men dismissed to be hanging on at the end with keeper Ian Deakin producing another inspired display.

The visitors opened brightly to take a third minute lead. Neil Stevens did good work on the right to produce a left-footed cross that was headed home convincingly by Lee Morris.

However Rangers, publicly criticised by their manager for a poor second half display on Saturday, bounced back to equalise just seven minutes later.

A defensive error allowed Kasiama to score with a deflected shot but by then Morris could have doubled the visitors’ advantage as his 30-yard snap shot fizzed narrowly wide.

The goal lifted Stafford, who recently evicted Bradford from the Trophy, and they now enjoyed a majority of possession but three of their players saw yellows for nasty fouls.

Rangers took the lead in the 43rd minute when another defensive error allowed the lively Kasiama to double his tally.

Nonetheless the Bucks hit back to draw level by the interval, courtesy of a typically dangerous Kevin Sandwith corner-kick, headed back by Roberts, touched on by Morris and headed home by Kieran Lugsden.

Early in the second half, home centre-half Luke George saw red for an innocuous foul and the expectation was for the Bucks to establish dominance to advance to victory – but four minutes later Morris was sucked into an attempt at retaliation.

His red card allowed Stafford to regain the initiative and as in the first half Kasiama proved the danger man, forcing Deakin into a good save as three quarter time approached.

Buxton responded with a neat free-kick move which set up the impressive Stevens for a penetrative cross towards the near post and Haggerty’s header tested keeper Alcock low down.

However, the game took another twist in the 81st minute as Lugsden was the second visitor to see red, earning a second yellow for a late but harmless challenge.

Strangely, the Bucks then went very close to a winning goal from the game’s outstanding piece of outfield skill.

Substitute Jack Bradbury, operating as a lone striker, almost beat the advancing Alcock to a through ball with the ball ballooning back to Sandwith on the half-way line, and first time, the defender hit a 50-yard lobbed shot that was dropping under the bar when the galloping keeper managed to tip it over the top.

Then Sandwith had another chance after excellent work by the outstanding Steve Istead but his 25-yard drive cleared the bar.

However, the remainder of the action was dominated by the in-form Deakin as Stafford pressed for a winner and he twice denied Kasiama with saves at full stretch but the home side missed a great chance at the death. Deakin saved Heler’s shot but the substitute’s follow-up header, aimed at the unguarded goal, passed wide of the target.

lTeam: Deakin, Black, Haggerty, Roberts, Sandwith, Stevens, Istead, Thornhill, Duncum (Bradbury 74), Morris, Lugsden.

Attendance: 283.