The long road to promotion

BUXTON FC manager John Reed is hoping the forthcoming run of away fixtures will not spell the end of the road for his side’s promotion challenge.

Six of the Bucks’ remaining eight Evo-Stik Premier Division matches are away from home, starting on Saturday against Ossett Town (kick-off 3pm) and followed on the Wednesday by the long trip to face Whitby Town (kick-off 7.45pm).

Still to come after that are away trips to Stocksbridge Park Steels, Worksop Town, Northwich Victoria and Nantwich Town.

Yet it is his squad’s growing injury worries – and not the run of away games – that is troubling the Buxton boss the most.

“Whether we are at home or away, it doesn’t really matter to us,” Reed declared ahead of the home game against North Ferriby United last night (Wednesday).

“Motivating the players for the challenge ahead is an easy part of the game and one of my strengths as a manger.

“We have been very good on our travels this season and we have a great record.

“My only concern is if we fall short of players because of injuries. I keep looking up to the sky and saying a little prayer, because if we can keep our players fit then we have a great chance of reaching the play-offs.”

Reed had been due to recall Nathan Benger to the bench for last night’s clash with North Ferriby, while Tommy Agus, Steve Ridley, Michael Towey and Scott Maxfield were all expected to undergo late fitness tests ahead of the important league clash.

Influential central defender Matt Heywood is now confirmed as being out for the remainder of the season.

“After the 1-1 draw against Ashton, about four or five of my players said they had nothing left in their legs,” Reed continued.

“You hear managers complaining on the television about having to play twice a week, but we have been doing this for the past six weeks. And my players are all part time, with physical day jobs.

“It is very draining for them, and if they get knocks it is very difficult for them to recover in time.

“But they have got a great personal desire, great levels of determination and hopefully that will pull us all through.

“We have got eight cup finals to play now - including a Derbyshire Cup final against Derby County. We are all switched on, we are all focused.”

Forwards Graham Poole and Paul Sullivan, from Dove Holes and Buxton Christians respectively, are the latest Hope Valley Football League forwards to sign Evo-Stik forms for the Bucks, and will act as cover during the season run-in.

Reed has also moved to sign ex-Scunthorpe United holding midfielder Joe Maguire, and is hoping to bring in a couple more players on loan ahead of the transfer deadline at midnight tonight (Thursday).

Remaining Buxton FC fixtures: April 2, Ossett Town (A); April 6, Whitby Town (A); April 9, Colwyn Bay (H); April 12, Stocksbridge Park Steels (A); April 16, Worksop Town (A); April 18, Northwich Victoria (A); April 20, Derby County - Derbyshire Senior Cup Final (A); April 23, Nantwich Town (A); April 25, Matlock Town (H).