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Buxton fight back from two-goals down to earn a draw against unbeaten Witton Albion
REGRETS, there were a few after Albion surrendered a two-goals advantage a little too easily.
Witton, used to not losing on the road in an unbeaten sequence that started last November, gave up a lead for the second successive Saturday.
After an hour, there appeared no hope for the hosts.
But Buxton, bruised if not battered by Brian Pritchard’s men before then, scored twice in eight minutes to restore parity.
They robbed nothing, their resilience deserving of a reward against opponents who relented when their manager wanted to see ruthlessness.
Three successive draws suggests a shortness of said quality, although no team has yet taken maximum points off Witton on their return to the Premier Division after three years away.
Since the break against Blyth on the opening day, Albion have started every half with the same set of players.
It should surprise nobody then, that after four games in less than fortnight since, there was a drop in intensity that coincided with Buxton’s revival.
That recovery could not have been predicted at half time, for the Bucks were blunt in attack before then.
They were lucky to trail by only a single goal too.
Former Witton striker Kieran Lugsden was quickest to react when Kevin Sandwith’s free kick hit a defender and fell into the forward’s path. His finish was assured and without fuss.
The visitors looked vulnerable, Danny Andrews dumping Lugsden to the floor in the penalty area after substitute Kyle Nix had moved cleverly on to Grant Black’s clipped pass.
Nix’s spot kick was emhpatic in execution.
Witton goalkeeper Matt Cooper saved smartly at close quarters when Lugsden’s leg met another Sandwith centre soon afterwards as well.
The Bucks’ good work was almost undone when Ashley Stott headed too high from inside the six-yard box from Josh Hancock’s corner.
However Pritchard’s withdrawal of both his first choice strikers hinted at preference for a point rather than none.
His mood will have been different at the interval, when Witton were deserving leaders.
A defender had diverted Shaun Tuck’s shot onto the crossbar in the first five minutes, then Marc Roberts’ brilliant block denied the same player from Anthony Gardner’s cross.
Witton’s full back repeated Roberts’ trick to deny Lugsden after Steve Istead had combined with substitute Jordan Thewlis, but the visitors’ defence was seldom in danger.
Mathew Wood swapped passes with Hancock only to shoot wide when well-placed.
The goal Albion’s insistence merited followed on 28 minutes, Hancock spinning away from two tackles before placing a perfect shot past Buxton custodian Steve Collis.
Rory Fallon’s fluke goal doubled Witton’s lead early in the second half, his cross from the right creeping over the line after hitting an upright.
Albion then retreated, in part because Buxton forced them too.
Witton added another match to their run without loss in the league, now at 21, by the finish but their players still wore rueful looks.
Stott’s glimpse of goal from close range was the closest they came to a winner.
Witton Star Man Josh Hancock. His two best games to date this week. The wide man’s first goal of the season was worth the wait, his improvisation to elude two defender a delight to see.
Buxton (4-4-2) Collis (GK), Black, Roberts (Stevens 46), Haggerty, Sandwith, Keane, Istead, Towey, Duncum (Nix 67), Reed (Thewlis 9), Lugsden. Subs not used Turner (GK), Maxfield. Goals Lugsden 63, Nix 71 (penalty). Booked Towey, Stevens (both fouls), Black (dissent).
Witton (4-4-2) Cooper (GK), Gardner, Harrison, Booth, Wood (Glover 57), Andrews, Sheehan, Fallon, Hancock, Stott (Cross 85), Tuck (Buchan 68). Subs not used Woolley, Moseley. Goals Hancock 28, Fallon 55. Booked Harrison, Andrews (both fouls).
Referee Barry Lamb (Eccles)