Buxton FC’s preparations for the new season have almost reached a conclusion with just over a week to go until the new BetVictor NPL Premier Division.
The Bucks continued their pre-season programme this week with games against Leek Town and Brighouse Town, as boss Paul Phillips makes his final adjustments.
New midfield signing Jake Hibbs, who arrived last week from Spennymoor on a three-month loan, made his first start for the club against Leek and scored.
Despite Hibbs’ goal and the Buxton dominating possession for long periods of the match at Leek on Saturday, the Bucks slipped to a first 2-1 defeat of pre-season.
“We had some players missing and gave chances to a few others,” said Phillips. “Leek were well organised but we must have had 80 per cent of possession.
“We didn’t create as much as I would have liked us to have and they took their chances from two shots they had and were the more clinical on the day.
“One or two people wrote their own obituaries on Saturday.
“We had Ash Young, Diego [De Girolamo] and [Martin] Pilkington missing, Chippy [Callum Chippendale] went off with a big split in his head and it gave others a chance.
“But a lot of them didn’t do that and a lot of them have gone by the wayside now.”
Phillips added: “Jake [Hibbs] has been brilliant. He hasn’t played due to the agreement in his loan, which said he couldn’t play until Spennymoor started their league season.
“He got 60 minutes on Saturday and really impressed. He’s a fit lad and stepped up the pace again last night [against Brighouse], as well as his standards.
“He can play in a few different positions - he played wing-back last night and right-sided midfielder - he’s a top player and I’m glad to have him at the club.”
Phillips’ men bounced back on Tuesday night, in the first of two home matches this week, against Brighouse, fighting back to finish the game 4-2 winners.
A brace each for Brad Grayson and Liam Hardy saw them end on top.
“We were very sloppy in the first 10-15 minutes,” said Phillips. “We conceded quite a poor goal by our standards and reacted well.
“With the opportunities we had in the first half, we should have had more goals to our name but we missed a few glaring chances.
“It was a learning curve for some but they’re looking a bit sharper and a bit fitter as the sessions go on.
“We’ve got one eye on not over-doing it with players, looking at how long the summer has gone on for, even though we didn’t get back in until 2nd July.
“We don’t want to train or do too much - we’ve got to make sure we get the right balance.”
The summer schedule finishes with the arrival of Widnes, of the NPL’s Division One North-West, to the Tarmac Silverlands Stadium on Friday night (7.45pm kick-off).
The long wait for league competitive action is over when Buxton travel to North Yorkshire to face Scarborough Athletic on Saturday 17th August (3pm).
While Phillips confirmed new signing, Paul Marshall, has penned dual-registration terms with a NPL Division One North-West side to build up match fitness.