An opening home defeat for The Rams.
Buxton are said to be one of the fancied teams in the NPL this season and came to the HWS fresh from a convincing win against Darlington on the opening day. On that basis the Rams will feel far from disheartened by a narrow deafeat in a game that was closely contested throughout. The problem though was that a much improved performance from the defeat at Rushall never really offered anything more than the final outcome.
The Rams looked to play neat progressive football throughout and in Dominic Hale playing notionally on the right but often floating inside have a match winner. The problem on the night was that despite a mid field trio of Alex Meaneu, Prince Heywood and David Kuba-Kuba buzzing about tirelessy, all neat in possession, the Rams could not find the way to get him involved sufficiently often or quickly to pose more than an occasional threat to a well drilled and effective Buxton back four. As a result his contribution until sent off in the closing moments in an unseemly brawl that started and restarted 3 times taking up the whole of the 4 minutes of added on time, was restricted to a mazey run from touchline to penalty spot in the first half and a brilliant ball inside the fullback half way through the second half which put Grant Spencer clear on goal – his cross shot going jjust wide of the post.
In truth those were the only two moments in which the Rams looked like unlocking the Buxton defence in which Joel Bembo-Leta was outstanding and their goalkeeper Phil Barnes otherwisecomfortable his only save coming from a diving header from his own defender. Once they had taken the lead on 10 minutes by way of a low shot from the edge of the area which had sufficient direction and pace to leave Grant Shenton with little chance Buxton were content to sit back and deny Rams any chance of getting behind their back four. The Rams midfield could not be criticised for effort but in style, size and pace they are all much of a muchness, lacking in physical presence what they offer in endeavour, and never looking able to get up or beyond Lee Gaskell or his eventual replacement Saidou Djanfar. A second half switch to bring McHale closer in support of the centre forward produced no great result and as the game progressed Buxton, moving the ball quickly and accurately had increasing joy exploiting the space between the Rams full backs and centre halves. From one such move a ball from the deadball line seemed certain to present the visitors with a second goal but were denied by a fine plunging save from Shenton.
The Rams never gave up trying but with diminishing results and the chance of a final charge in added time evaporated with the referee’s loss of control which resulted in a 22 man fight by the dug outs which say McHale for the Rams and Taylor for Buxton both sent off .Determined to get full value from the fine and suspension they continued their spat all the way to the dressing rooms. It is just as well that they are some distance apart!
We go again on Saturday at 3pm, as The Rams entertain ex-Conference side Hyde United at home.