Second-half blitz boosts Bucks’ play-offs bid

Buxton FC v Stafford Rangers (red), Steve Istead
Buxton FC v Stafford Rangers (red), Steve Istead

Evo-Stik Premier Division

Buxton 2, Stafford Rangers 1

Steve Istead and Lee Morris netted in a commanding and dominant second-half display as Buxton FC continued their march towards the Evo-Stik Premier Division playoffs on Saturday.

The pair were at the heart of everything as Martin McIntosh’s side battled back from Michael Carr’s perfectly-placed 22nd-minute opener for Stafford Rangers.

The visitors were unlucky not to be ahead by more at half-time, after Danny Quinn headed over the bar from six yards following a Christian Smith free-kick inside ten minutes, and then just before half-time Sean O’Connor missed the target in similar circumstances.

For the Bucks, Marc Roberts flashed a header wide within minutes of Carr’s marker, and then in the closing stages of the half Morris headed an excellent Kevin Sandwith cross from the right onto the top of the goal.

If Stafford had shaded the first half, supporters of both sides could be under no illusion as to who came out on top in the second 45 minutes.

The Bucks were quick out of the blocks, with Jamie Green dragging an attempt wide from the edge of the area and Morris unable to find the target with his header from a Grant Black cross.

Soon after, the striker’s pinpoint ball from the right-hand touchline sought out the advancing Istead to turn his low cross past Ben Garratt in the Stafford goal for a 56th-minute equaliser.

Ten minutes later and Buxton were ahead. A long punt upfield was headed on by substitute Michael Towey and Morris got the jump on the Stafford defence to race away and thump the ball past Garratt.

With the Bucks seemingly bursting with energy, the visitors were constantly hassled in possession and created very little in the second half, although in the closing stages Ian Deakin was forced to get his body behind a Carr free-kick from 30 yards.

So, another vital win for McIntosh’s playoff-chasing side, who have now suffered only one defeat in their last 15 Evo-Stik Premier Division matches.

Buxton: Deakin, Black, Sandwith, Istead, Haggerty, Roberts, Stevens, Thornhill (Towey, 67), Morris, Maxfield, Green. Substitutes not used: Lugsden, Duncum, Mills.

Attendance: 329.

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