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Lee Morris scores twice to deliver opening day win for Buxton against Witton Albion
FOOTBALL may be back, but Witton were late to arrive.
They are used to winning on the season’s opening day, but little was familiar – during the first half particularly – in a showing littered with untidiness.
Buxton, as they did when the teams met previously, made the most of it.
In Lee Morris, the Bucks possess a player who loves to score against Albion; he added a double to the hat-trick plundered in Northwich last December.
The game’s decisive moment was his.
Witton had assumed control at the start of the second half, drawing level through Kyle Wilson to match Morris’ opener shortly before the break.
When the front man, back to goal, tamed a long pass there was much to do.
But he muscled his way to a central position from one inside left, shrugging off Ben Harrison’s flimsy attempt to pinch the ball, before shooting low and with enough power to better goalkeeper Matt Cooper’s attempt to save.
The visitors’, scenting victory after shaking off the stupor of a sluggish start, lost momentum in an instant. They did not look likely to recover it.
When substitute Leon Osborne swept in with eight minutes left after Craig King had led a counter attack, Buxton were certain to win a Premier Division campaign curtain-raiser for the first time in five years.
They deserved to as well.
Manager Martin McIntosh sent his team out in the same formation as opposite number Brian Pritchard but his extra man in midfield – skipper Steve Istead – moved more intelligently into space.
Morris sounded a warning of what was to follow when, left unmarked, he headed high King’s centre.
Witton, disjointed initially, ought to have trailed on 22 minutes when Cooper could only claw Derek Niven’s up-and-under into Scott Maxfield’s path.
His drive slapped a post, then Morris pinged the loose ball against the crossbar. Maxfield met that rebound, only for Harrison to time his block perfectly.
Jamie Green did exactly the same at the other end to deny debutant Matt Purcell.
Buxton persisted, and King was next to go close when forcing Cooper to save from their next foray forward.
Albion, perhaps sensing fortune was on their side, erred again in defence in the seconds before half time.
If Harrison’s foul on Morris was careless, then the visitors’ marking was negligent when the striker powered a header into the corner from Grant Black’s resulting free kick.
Witton rallied after the interval, attacking with the same authority the hosts had before it.
Purcell drilled wide following Josh Hancock’s clever flick, while Danny Andrews blazed high when he had time to steady himself.
They merited unconditionally an equaliser when it arrived on the hour, Wilson steering into an empty net at the back post after Hancock had driven low across the face of goal.
Buxton, for the first time, appeared brittle.
In Morris though they have a match-winner, which is exactly what he did five minutes after Albion’s leveller.
Witton, after an underwhelming start, have work to do.
Buxton (4-5-1) Warrington (GK), Black, Broadhead, Ryan, Green, Stevens, Niven, Istead (Osborne 57), Maxfield, King, Morris. Subs not used Stanway (GK), Johnson, Thornhill, Reed Goals Morris 44, 64, Osborne 82 Booked Istead (dissent)
Witton (4-5-1) Cooper (GK) Gardner, Harrison, Joseph, Glover, Purcell (Foster 68), James, Platt, Andrews (Dawson 78), Hancock, Wilson (Peers 78). Subs not used Grocott, Ashworth Goal Wilson 59 Booked James (foul)
Referee Rob Goodwin-Davey (Cheadle)
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