Evo-Stik Premier Division
Burscough 1, Buxton FC 2
A DYNAMIC purple patch either side of the hour in West Lancashire last Saturday effectively secured full points for Buxton to complete a superb week which further enhanced the club’s promotion ambitions.
The two victories on the road advanced the Bucks into fifth place in the table, with games in hand.
A difficult pitch, wet on top but firm beneath, did not permit a classic match, but what proved to be the winning goal in the 61st minute will live long in the memory.
Mark Reed’s illustrious Silverlands career has already produced 181 goals, but he can rarely have scored a better one than this brilliant individual effort.
Moving from left to right at pace along the edge of the penalty area he side-stepped three defenders in quick succession to half-turn and drive the ball back across goalkeeper Willis low into the far bottom corner.
At this point, the Bucks were rampant after a vibrant opening to the second half had seen Burscough take a surprise 49th minute lead. A long diagonal ball to the far post saw Parry head back to the centre and Byers found the corner of the net with another firm header.
Remarkably, after appearing relatively toothless, Burscough twice went close to doubling their advantage within a minute of scoring. A fine Byers header produced the best save of the game by Scott Hartley, then skipper Roberts went close with a shot just wide of the angle.
The visitors were nettled into rapid response and after a 23-yard Steve Ridley free kick had passed narrowly wide, Kieran Lugsden headed against the bar and Josh Wilde’s follow-up shot was blocked close to the line.
However, the equaliser wasn’t long delayed as Grant Black’s high looping cross met the head of the leaping Michael Towey, whose effort found the net via Willis’ outstretched hand and the angle of post and crossbar.
Just four minutes later came Reed’s goal, followed by several other close calls for the home defence.
Reed burst through on the right only to have his shot diverted for a corner kick, from which Towey’s header was headed off the line. Then Reed, oozing with confidence, took down the highest of high balls from Tommy Agus and, in one fluent movement, hammered a low drive marginally wide of the far post.
The lively Lugsden twice nearly got into the scoring action as first a dangerous Josh Wilde pass narrowly eluded him, as did a back-pass to Willis, and Neil Stevens was close to playing Reed in after winning a tackle superbly deep on Burscough’s left.
Thereafter, the match’s quality deteriorated as play became scrappy, but Burscough fluffed one glorious chance to equalise as substitute Smethurst beat two defenders only to fire his 18-yard shot directly at Hartley.
The home side managed to exert some pressure in the unexpected six minutes of added time, but Reed typified his team’s commitment by firmly heading clear a Burscough corner kick, then sprinting 30 yards to close down an opponent as he prepared to launch the ball forward.
The story of the first half, in which few openings were fashioned, is quickly told. Gregg Anderson returned in place of the injured Matt Heywood to produce one of his best displays of the season, aided and abetted in the heart of defence by the in-form Agus.
Shading possession, the Bucks throughout tried to play their passing game and on several occasions went close to creating chances, while their only real anxiety was a risky Anderson challenge on Parry close to goal in the 44th minute.
Buxton: Hartley, Black, Anderson, Agus, Wilde, Stevens, Maxfield, Towey (Askey, 90), Ridley, Reed, Lugsden (Ovington, 77). Subs not used: Whight, Kirkland, Liversidge. Attendance: 247.