9:11pm Saturday 7th December 2013
By Andrew Simpson
TORMENT by Lee Morris is a familiar woe for Witton Albion, made more acute by their own inability to score.
The Buxton front man added to his bounty against the men from Wincham Park with the game’s only goal, his sixth in the teams’ past three league meetings.
They have made the difference every time.
His telling contribution – to sweep in a ball from close range that crept into his path after travelling across the six-yard box – appeared simple.
But it was a moment that highlighted starkly the difference between sides that could not be separated in any other way.
When Witton created chances, which they did during the opening half hour, nobody in red and white was as clinical as Morris would be later.
After four successive home wins, a better run than they managed when reaching the play-offs last season, Albion had reason to be optimistic at least.
Despite being shorn of injured Ben Harrison, plus attacking duo Neville Thompson and Kyle Wilson, they were still better than Buxton during the opening exchanges.
Aaron Rey ought to have scored his first goal for the club in the sixth minute, only to scuff horribly wide after Ally Brown’s foray forward supplied an inviting pass.
Anthony Gardner’s drive forced Bucks’ goalkeeper Andy Warrington to save smartly low to his right, though the net-minder’s next intervention was infinitely more impressive.
When Gardner, revelling in an unfamiliar midfield role, danced past two would-be tacklers inside the penalty area, a goal seemed certain – and merited – reward, only for the veteran custodian to save bravely.
He reacted swiftly too when Rey attempted to sneak a shot past him at the near post shortly afterwards.
Buxton, buoyed by not conceding, recovered.
Ash Palmer met Grant Black’s free kick with a header, but Brown hooked clear his goal-bound effort from under the crossbar.
The defender leapt highest to meet Matt Thornhill’s corner, wasting the opportunity by sending his finish off target.
Away from the Silverlands, Buxton games have yielded fewest goals – 18 before kick off – of any in the Northern Premier League’s top flight this term.
With Albion, solid in defence, searching for a fourth successive shut-out in all competitions, a stalemate seemed a safe bet.
First, rather than next, goal wins then.
That Morris would be its author should have surprised nobody in these parts.
Albion boss Brian Pritchard argued afterwards a throw-in that preceded his 13th strike of the season was incorrectly awarded to the visitors.
True or not, the punishment for his defenders’ lapse in concentration was severe.
“We just can’t seem to put the ball in the net – it’s so annoying,” he said.
“I’ve lost count of how many forwards we’ve got through, yet the result is the same. I’m very frustrated.”
With a tally of 20 goals from 18 games outside if hammerings of bottom pair Stafford and Droylsden are discounted, he needs a Lee Morris.
Witton Star Man: Anthony Gardner. His performance, particularly in the first half, had verve. It allowed the home team to assume control, though they could not convert it into goals.
Witton (4-4-2) Cooper (GK), Brown, Bodie, Powell, Moyo, Andrews, Breeze, Gardner, Dawson (Hancock 72), Rey, Parkhouse (Moseley 85) Subs not used Plant (GK), Harrison, Crofts Booked Hancock, Powell (both fouls)
Buxton (4-5-1) Warrington (GK), Black, Palmer, Ryan, Green, Stevens (Istead 60), Niven, Harris, Thornhill (Reed 75), King, Morris (Bradbury 84) Subs not used Stanway (GK), Johnson Goal Morris 55 Booked Thornhill (kicking the ball away)
Referee Gary Hilton
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