Second half rally not enough for the Reds
Two goals down at the break, Reds gave a much-improved performance in the second half but left the Silverlands Stadium empty handed as Buxton claimed a league double.
Luck appeared to be against them in the first forty-five minutes as Josh Calvert was forced to retire after just twenty minutes with a controversial penalty awarded against them soon after. But they didn’t help themselves in that first period and, ultimately, were left with too much to do after the break.
With Buxton’s home record not the best and Reds disappointing record on the road hampering their progress, something had to give. And it was Buxton who came out on top, registering their most impressive home victory to date.
Joint-manager Lee Andrews was left to reflect on their pedestrian start to the afternoon, culminating in a fifteenth defeat of the season.
“If we had started the game like we did the second half, I think we would have overrun them but we seemed flat, sat too deep and gave them too much room,” he said, adding, “but we said at half time that if we got in their faces and made it difficult for them to play, we had the quality to open them up and create chances which we did after the interval.”
Liam Hardy, the league’s top scorer, had never netted against Reds on home soil but he put that record straight by starting and concluding the scoring with his 30th and 31st goals of another excellent personal campaign.
He was a handful from the first whistle and almost opened the scoring in Buxton’s first attack. Aaran Taylor made a goal saving tackle on the striker and Dan Wordsworth did even better when the loose ball seemed to favour the Bucks’ frontman.
Hardy then skipped past Wordsworth and sent a firmly struck shot goal wards which Taylor gathered routinely.
Taylor kept Reds in the game again as Buxton’s high tempo start continued. Joe McGee’s near post corner was met by Anthony Wilson but Taylor’s strong right hand kept the ball out with a fine reflex stop.
But Hardy was given a helping hand for his thirtieth league goal after Sheffield referee Lee Freeman awarded the hosts a penalty. There seemed to be a coming together of the two Anthonys – Reds’ Wright and Buxton’s Wilson – with a free kick to the visitors the sensible scenario. But the referee surprised all by pointing to the spot and Hardy blasted home, giving Buxton a deserved, albeit controversial, advantage in the twenty-seventh minute.
Reds responded well and came close to an equaliser immediately with in-form defender, Matty Douglas, almost adding to his impressive nine goal tally. He met David Symington’s corner at the far post but another great header was cleared from under the bar by a combination of two Buxton defenders.
A McGee free kick at the other end was dealt with by Taylor but Buxton doubled their lead after thirty-seven minutes when Wilson was allowed to turn and trickle home the second with Reds statuesque defenders failing to react.
Rob Wilson almost reduced the arrears just before the break when he dragged a shot a foot wide of the post after Steven Rigg supplied the assist.
A noticeable improvement on the restart saw Rigg drive a good effort just over the bar, after Wordsworth chested the ball into his path, then Wright was way off target with a shot with his less favoured right foot.
The lifeline came in the sixty-seventh minute when Reds were awarded a penalty. Wilson’s clever pass released Conor Tinnion but his progress was halted by Jude Oyibo’s clumsy challenge, interpreted by the referee as ‘not a genuine attempt to play the ball.’ The young substitute’s cameo lasted ten minutes before he was controversially sent off.
Despite the unsettling delay before the spot kick, Scott Allison sent Jan Budtz the wrong way for his 21st goal of the season.
It prompted Reds’ best period of the game but they could not fashion an equaliser and a third goal for the hosts, after seventy-six minutes, stopped them in their tracks. Wordsworth conceded a free-kick just outside the area and Bradley Grayson guided the ball into the net with precision, leaving Taylor helpless.
No white flag from Reds, though, as they gamely battled on. Symington had wasted his earlier opportunities but finished well from inside the box after Allison rolled the ball into his path with just over a minute of normal time remaining.
In pushing for the equaliser and two further chances were squandered, Reds fell for the sucker punch in stoppage time.
Wordsworth was sold short with a pass on the halfway line and he slipped on the tricky surface. The ball fell conveniently for livewire Hardy and he had a clear run to goal, rounded Taylor and planted the ball into the net to seal a good afternoon’s work for the Buxton talisman and his delighted colleagues.
Buxton Budtz, Degirolamo, Meade, Baker, Young, Broadhead, Taylor (Maguire, 74), McGee (Oyibo, 58), Wilson (Grayson, 69), Hardy, Hinsley. Substitutes – Doran, McWilliams (not used).
Workington Taylor, Douglas, Rowntree (Joel, 83), Wordsworth, Calvert (Smith, 20), Wright, Symington, Wilson, Allison, Rigg, Tinnion. Substitutes – Brown, Mellen and Holt (not used).
Referee Lee Freeman, Sheffield
Bookings: Wilson (Buxton), Wordsworth, Wilson (Workington)
Red card: Oyibo (Buxton, 67)