A second-half equaliser by man-of-the-match Max Bartholomew earned Buxton a 1-1 draw against fellow strugglers Derby in Division One of the East Midlands Men’s Hockey League.
Sitting next to bottom in the table and desperate for points, Buxton produced a performance that was far from perfect against a keen Derby side, who played well and look to be improving. But their determination and effort kept them in good stead and, with a little more luck, they might have been celebrating only their third win of the league season.
Derby began strongly, passing the ball well. But once Buxton had settled, they turned up the heat and were relentless for the first 15 minutes of the game. They created multiple chances when a through ball from Jamie Wilton found Jim Roe, who ran to the by-line before firing a cross to the top of the D.
This set the tone for much of the first half as chance after chance either fizzled out, was saved or was hit off target. One notable attempt came from Louis Forshaw-Perring, who dribbled past the Derby defence, moving to the left of goal and blasting a shot that struck the top-corner netting outside the post.
All seemed to be going well for Buxton and it was surely only a matter of time before the goals came. But then disaster struck as Derby played a period of good hockey that resulted in them taking the lead instead. They attacked down the right, pulling the Buxton defence across, which left a free attacker. When the ball was rolled towards him, he wasted no time in driving it into the top corner of the net, leaving goalkeeper Dan Robins with no chance.
As the second half opened, Buxton were determined to get on top again. And despite an injury to Sam Lomas, which necessitated a change of formation, they did so, playing the ball around and looking for options.
Equally, the passing through midfield and on to the attackers improved, which led to a terrific effort from Max Bartholomew, who fired a seemingly impossible reverse-stick shot from the just off the by-line, which missed the roof of the net by inches.
Moments later, another strong attack was engineered by Forshaw-Perring and Joe Uprichard. But as the crowd continued to cheer them on, Buxton were finally rewarded for their toils. Bartholomew charged through the Derby defence and although he teed up a reverse hit, he ended up switching the ball back to his strong side and slapping it into the corner of the goal. It was a strike that just shaded him the best player award, ahead of Forshaw-Perring and well in front of Roe, who blotted Buxton’s copybook by putting a ball through the window of a neighbouring house!