An hour and a half after we set off, I would have put a few quid on the match being called off. Midway across the Peaks on the A53, you could barely see your hand in front of your face. With just 3 miles to go until we reached Buxton, the situation had not improved and we were really starting to think we had made a wasted journey. However, as we reached the outskirts of the town, it started to lift a little and it became apparent that we would at least see a kick-off.
Buxton's stadium, SIlverlands, is very close to the town centre (easily in walking distance). We quickly found a parking spot just a short distance away and walked up to the ground. Silverlands is the highest football ground in England at 1,000 feet above sea level. Buxton have been playing home games here since 1884 and the ground has that feel of being a 'proper' football ground about it. As you enter the ground, to your left is the club house, tea bar and club shop. Then just a little further to the left is the main stand, with seats for around 500. The dugouts at Buxton are situated right in front of the main stand. Any regular readers will know that this is a rarity these days. On the opposite side to the main stand is partially covered terracing running the full length of the playing area. The far goal, to the left of the main stand, is backed by hard standing only. The right hand stand though, the Railway End, has a covered terrace that holds around 1,000. The entire capacity of the ground is listed at 5,200.
As you can see from the photos, although the weather had cleared enough for a match to take place, it was still quite misty come kick off.
Before the game an announcement was made that there would be a minute silence for the Australian cricketer Phil Hughes, who sad tragically lost his life last week. He had, in the past, played for Worcestershire, a team supported by many Stourbridge followers. The silence was absolutely impeccably observed by both sets of fans, players and officials. A credit to their teams.
Buxton came into the game in third place but, having lost 3-0 at home to Witton Albion in midweek, some of the locals were not at all happy with their team. Stourbridge, after a fine 2-1 win against FCUM, had themselves lost in midweek, 2-0 to Barwell.
It became apparent very early on in the game that Buxton had no intention of losing two home games on the bounce. They were sharper, quicker to the ball and way more organised than Stourbridge all over the pitch.
At this point, let me say that I have noticed I am far more critical of Stourbridge (my team) than any other team that I watch. When I attend a game featuring two teams that I have no connection to, I just enjoy the game. However, when I watch Stourbridge I obviously want them to win which makes me more annoyed by individual or team mistakes. This over-hyped criticism would come to light even more later in this game.
Stourbridge were forced into a change after 10 minutes when Geohaghon went off with a head injury but by this time the home side were already well on top, completely dominating the midfield and winning every fifty-fifty. Stourbridge were reduced to playing long balls that were just meat and drink to the Buxton centre-half pairing.
On 25 minutes the home side went in front. Stourbridge lost possession in midfield and, when the ball was played through, Sean Tuton rounded Coleman before firing home.
Four minutes later the away side were forced into another change when Jordan Fitzpatrick went off with an injury. Buxton continued to boss the game with Stourbridge offering very little. Then, just before the break, a move down the Buxton right lead to a cross which was tapped home by Liam Hardy. So, at the break, it was Buxton 2 Stourbridge 0 and it could easily have been more. I think a lot of Stourbridge supporters were, at this point, hoping for the fog to close in. It looked like the best chance of not losing the match.
The way the second half started it was clear that Gary Hackett had read the riot act to his players at half-time. It was immediately obvious that Stourbridge were playing with more urgency. The midfield that, in my tweets I had said were completely AWOL, suddenly were getting their foot on the ball. The aimless long ball was replaced by shorter sharper passing and, at last, it looked like we may get a more even game. Just before the hour mark this passing style of play reaped some reward. When a free-lick was awarded some 20=25 yards out, Drew Canavan lined it up and placed a perfect shot past the Buxton keeper into his top right corner. Game on, or at least we thought it was. The goal visibly lifted Stourbridge and the cracks were starting to show in the Buxton defence. A couple of chances were made and missed but, for 10 minutes, there was really only one team in it. Then came the moment that sealed the game and, as I pointed out earlier, sparked mis-placed criticism from me. A Buxton raid down their left lead to a soft looking cross along the ground. A Stourbridge defender looked like he should clear it but appeared to completely miss his kick giving Hardy the simplest of tap-ins to make it 3-1. My Twitter comment of 'Comedy Defending' was borne entirely out of frustration. It would seem that a very unfortunate bobble (think Paul Robinson in Croatia) had taken the ball past the Stourbridge defender rather than shoddy defending. As I say, frustration took over, my team had forced themselves back into contention and then a stupid slip-up had cost them the game. I realise that all of these players are good players, who can make mistakes like anyone else. Disappointment is no excuse for slamming them on social media.
That said, at 3-1 down with less than 15 minutes to go, it was game over. Stourbridge were not going to pull it back again. In fact, Buxton scored again, with their own curling free-kick, this time from Lawrie Wilson. So, it finished 4-1 which, on the balance of the first half, would not seem to be an unfair scoreline. However, Stourbridge did make a fist of it in the second half and could feel a little hard done by with the margin of defeat.
Not the best away day results wise but good to visit a really atmospheric, friendly stadium.
Buxton FC - @buxton_fc
Stourbridge FC - @sfcofficial