Championship-chasing Salford’s two goals in 12 minutes at the end of the first half saw off Buxton at the weekend.
Buxton worked hard to restrict City’s attacking quality, but offered little in attack until the closing minutes when the home team was reduced to ten men. The recent introduction of National League forwards Hine (from Chorley) and Johnston (on loan from Alfreton) clearly pepped up Salford’s forward play with both of them figuring on the score sheet.
City would have scored as early as the second minute but for a fine save by Matt Glennon, who raced from his line to block Hine’s goal bound shot.
Buxton responded well initially with Alastair Taylor volleying off target from a Liam Hardy cross.
Then, on the quarter hour, Barraclough saw a 15-yard shot blocked, but it the quartet of home forwards who were proving the more penetrative play.
A long free-kick set up a threatening Salford move and it took Taylor’s good defending to avert the danger, but from a right flank corner kick just short of the half hour O’Halloran’s glancing header went close.
There was to be no escape six minutes later, even though referee Cunliffe had to consult the relevant assistant to check the goal authenticity.
A passing move from right to left was finished off by Hine at short range. In responses the Bucks forced a corner kick but from it a rapid City counter attack required more good Taylor defending to prevent a second goal.
However, just has added time was announced Johnston doubled his team’s advantage, firing low from 20 yards across Glennon into the far corner of the net.
An early change to Buxton’s second half personnel couldn’t wrest the initiative away from Salford and Glennon was first forced to make a tip-over save from substitute Mwasile’s rising shot before making another crucial blocking save.
Late on the home side looked to be easing towards full-time ahead of Tuesday’s top of the table encounter at Blyth but midfielder Stopforth was dismissed for an unnecessary second yellow card offence in the 83rd minute, allowing the Bucks to mount a late flourish.
From an Ash Burbeary left-wing cross four minutes later, ‘Barra’ headed onto the underside of the bar but there was no question of a 1966 World Cup Final decision. It was certainly a case of too little too late as Buxton conceded a second double of the season.
Bucks: Glennon, Belezika (Wiles), Green, Ravenhill, J Bembo-Leta, Young, Taylor, Harris, Barraclough, Hardy, Doran (Burbeary). Unused Subs: F Bembo-Leta, Grayson, Wright.