Play-off hopes hang in the balance ahead of finale

Buxton FC v Matlock Town, pictured is Buxton manager Martin McIntosh and assistant Tim Ryan
Buxton FC v Matlock Town, pictured is Buxton manager Martin McIntosh and assistant Tim Ryan

Buxton’s hopes of reaching the Evo-Stik Premier Division play-offs could be over by the time they kick off their final game of the season this weekend.

A mixed Bank Holiday programme saw them crucially lose 1-0 at home to Grantham Town on Saturday before then beating local rivals Matlock on Monday.

However, results elsewhere mean that a win for Workington over relegated Ilkeston on Wednesday night (19th) and a point for Nantwich Town at Halesowen on Thursday (20th) would see Buxton unable to gain a top five finish.

And boss Martin McIntosh has admitted his side’s hopes now look slim.

He said: “It’s very much an outside chance, that much is obvious, but we can only watch on and hope things go our way and then do what we have to do on Saturday.

“We found Ilkeston very hard to break down when they came here last week so Workington may not have it all their own way, whilst Nantwich having to get something at Halesowen is no foregone conclusion given they’ll have a lot of pressure on them ahead of another massive game on Saturday.”

If either Workington and Nantwich slip up in midweek, then the play-off race will go down to Saturday’s action when Buxton travel to Marine, Nanwich play fellow hopefuls Stourbridge, Workington host struggling Sutton Coldfield and outsiders Grantham and Whitby face Blyth Spartans and Hednesford respectively.

McIntosh added: “If it’s not to be, it’s not to be, but we’ll have our fingers crossed that it will go to the final day which would be fantastic.”

Reflecting on Saturday’s loss to Grantham, McIntosh felt hard done by to have come away with nothing from the game.

He said: “I can’t believe we haven’t won the game, in all honesty. I’ve seen some reports from the Grantham side saying they dominated the game but I don’t know why teams talk themselves up like that as the reality is they had one shot on goal, we gifted them their winner, while we had huge possession and missed some great chances.

“It’s easy to look at one game and say that’s where our chance of the play-offs went, particularly given it’s so fresh in the mind, but you can point at several moments in the season where if things had been different we’d have got crucial points.

“That’s football, and over a season nothing is truly decided on one game or one moment no matter how decisive it is at the time. It’s frustrating for us of course but we have a lot to be proud of too.”

Monday saw Buxton’s old rivals from down the A6 beaten thanks to two first-half goals from Bradley Grayson.

McIntosh added: “We owed it to our fans and our board to get one over on Matlock after we lost there on Boxing Day.

“That was my only ever defeat to Matlock personally and wasn’t helped by having four key players out and no natural centre-halves, so it was important we won the game on Monday.

“I said to the players beforehand that I wanted us to do everything we could to ensure the play-off race goes to the wire and even though it looks likely we could be out of the running by Saturday, they responded well and as we speak there’s still a mathematical chance of us getting into the top five.”