Buxton move within two points of league leaders Matlock Town with a victory over Nantwich Town.

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Buxton captain Josh Granite watches the ball in their win over Nantwich. Photo by Jonathan White

Buxton are just two points off league leaders Matlock Town after the Bucks gained a vital 3-1 win at Nantwich Town.

Two second-half goals from former Northern Ireland international Jamie Ward and one from Mackenize Heaney got the win for Steve Cunningham’s men. However, the Bucks had to do it the hard way as they were behind at the break, thanks to a lovely goal from Shaun Miller.

Both managers were without important players to call on- Nantwich were missing forward Dan Cockerline, while for the Bucks, they were without Tom Elliott and Deigo De Girolamo.

In what was a poor opening 45 minutes, Nantwich had the best two chances of the half. The first saw Joe Malkin head wide of the goal from a Miller cross. The former Cammell Laird man might have felt he could have done better with the effort but, the ball came off the side of his face as he adjusted his body as the ball came in.

The second chance was actually the opening goal of the game. Miller and Sean Cooke exchanged passes before the former curled the ball past Theo Richardson into the far corner of the net.

It was a frustrating first-half for Buxton as Nantwich were resolute at the back meaning, that the visitors were reduced to half-chances. Their best effort came from top scorer Ward on the half an hour mark. However, he was to shoot wide of Matt Gould’s goal.

The second 45 minutes was a complete contrast to how the first half had been played. Cunningham must have got in the ears of the Buxton players as they took total complete control of the game and showed why they’re pushing for promotion to the Vanarama National League North.

Heaney could have got an equaliser just five minutes after the restart when he went one on one with Gould. However, the grandson of former Wales manager Bobby Gould, was able to get something on the shot which sent the ball wide of the goal.

Buxton were level on 54 minutes when Heaney was dragged down inside the box by Matt Bell. Gould was able to save the penalty from Ward but, the rebound was put straight into Ward’s path and, he made no mistake the second time around.

The side from Derbyshire got their second penalty of the afternoon just five minutes later. Jason Gilchrist caught Nantwich on the break and, he was brought down by Gould just inside the area. Despite missing one just moments earlier, Ward stepped up and made no mistake this time around as he rolled the ball into the right-hand corner with Gould going the wrong way.

The drama calmed down for a bit as Buxton were able to retain possession without testing the Nantwich defence. Although, they did have a chance to get their third goal of the afternoon with just 20 minutes to go when Chris Dawson rattled the crossbar from 25-yards out.

Buxton sealed the win with 10 minutes left on the clock when Heaney picked up a loose ball midway inside the Nantwich half. He ran at the defence before hitting a shot which took a deflection off Joel Stair and looped in via the underside of the crossbar.

It’s a vital win for Buxton as they close the gap on league leaders Matlock Town to just two points as the Gladiators needed a late goal to pick up a point at Whitby Town. Meanwhile, for Nantwich Town, they’re five points off safety after relegation rivals Hyde United beat Warrington and Mickleover FC beat Radcliffe FC.

After the game, I caught up with the management teams from both camps.
First, you can hear from Buxton manager Steve Cunningham.

While Nantwich Town’s assistant manager Jay Bateman spoke after the game.

Nantwich Town: Gould, Hughes (Heath, 76), Vaughan, Bourne, Stair, Nock, Raffie, Bell (Robbins, 60), Malkin (Montefiori, 60), Cooke and Miller.
Unused subs: Bickerstaff and Edwards.

Buxton: Richardson, Curley, Newton, Cowan, Granite, Meilke, Ward (Chambers, 61), Dawson, Gilchrist (Fox, 76), Heaney and Clarke.
Unused sub: Taylor and Richardson.

Attendance: 535