Evo-Stik Premier Division
Blyth Spartans 2....................................
Buxton FC 2...........................................
AFTER a closing quarter-hour that was surely as pulsating as in any match anywhere last Saturday, the Bucks had to settle for a point when three seemed there for the taking only a short time earlier.
With the Bucks clearly determined to make up for the previous week’s disappointing performance, Spartans struggled to get out of their own half in the opening minutes and from the third corner-kick Marc Roberts powered a header over the bar.
When Blyth did mount an attack,the visitors’ defence, with Kallum Keane replacing David Haggerty, lacked the assuredness of better days and Dootson had to make a low save from Hubbard’s penalty-area turn and shot.
The midfielder, however, was not to be denied for long and in the 21st minute he netted convincingly from the penalty spot after Keane fouled the lofty Jennings, a target man who was a thorn in Buxton’s side all afternoon.
Buxton mounted an immediate and effective response with Sam Duncum and Reed looking likely scorers, but as time passed, the visitors began to concede possession too easily and the 41st-minute equaliser came out of the blue.
It was simplicity itself as Reed, six yards out from the near post, got his head to a Roberts long throw.
The second half opened in dramatic fashion as Spartans’ Tom Berj hit the bar with Jennings heading home the rebound only to be flagged for offside.
Thereafter Buxton took charge, even after Scott Maxfield had to be replaced through injury.
Neil Stevens, arguably Buxton’s man-of-the-match, moved to centre midfield but was temporarily on the right when he dispatched a perfect deep cross for Reed to head home.
With the Bucks now dominant, the striker might have completed his hat-trick when his attempted placement of a shot missed the target after Sam Duncum’s excellent run and cut-back had set him up. Other opportunities came and went so that Blyth still had hope and right-back Utterson punished some below-par defending to make it 2-2.
The climax to the game was every bit a thriller as both teams pressed hard for a winner in wide-open, end-to-end play.
Dootson made a fine low save following a quick Blyth free-kick, and then Dale’s thunderous effort rebounded from the bar before Lee Morris’ athletic overhead kick drew an instinctive save out of Grant.
Buxton threatened again as Lugsden’s penetrative pass set up Reed but centre-back Buchanan made a saving tackle, then Grant saved Duncum’s low shot at the expense of a corner.
So the Bucks made the long journey home with a point but the result has to be put into the same category as the away draws at Grantham, Nantwich and Stafford where victories could and should have been achieved.
Buxton: Dootson, Black, Keane, Roberts, Sandwith, Stevens, Thornhill (Morris, 45), Maxfield (Lugsden, 54), Duncum, Istead, Reed. Attendance: 301.