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FC United into play-off places with Buxton victory

FC United moved up to fifth place and into the play-off zone with a 3-0 win at Buxton thanks to a first half strike from Matthew Wolfenden and a second half brace from Michael Norton.

Embarking upon our first league game since 12th January, our only match since being in the League Cup victory over Ashton on Wednesday night, the Reds were looking to continue our 100% record in 2013.

As with midweek, Marginson opted for a 4-4-2 formation, playing Tom Greaves alongside Norton for the first time, but for a glimpse of the duo pairing up for the final few minutes at Hurst Cross.

On another sunny day in Buxton, the pitch bared no resemblance to its snow-covered state of a week ago. Both sides had chances in the opening stages, with Lee Morris heading just wide of James Spencer’s right post from close range and Kyle Jacobs did well to hold onto the ball in midfield before threading it through to Norton leading to a shot on target.

Spencer was put to the test from a set piece eight minutes in as Adam Jones conceded a free kick just outside the area. Kevin Sandwith squared the ball to Scott Maxfield who found an opening to shoot, forcing the United keeper into a one-handed tip over the bar.

A couple of minutes later and FC took the lead. A punt from Spencer was flicked on by Norton to Jerome Wright on the overlap. The winger chipped a good ball across to Wolfenden who ran in from the right hand side and lifted the ball over Craig Dootson.

A chance followed for Norton who picked up the ball on the far post and volleyed across goal, seeing his effort go wide. The Reds were finding it difficult to play football along the ground due to the condition of the pitch.

Midway into the half, with the sun having re-emerged, Dootson denied United doubling their lead with a fantastic stop. Jake Cottrell played the ball into the box amidst a sea of Red and Wright got away from the defender to send the ball goal wards with his right foot. The ball came back out and fell to Greaves who hit on the half volley from six yards. The keeper did superbly to pull off a point-blank save from the striker.

Dean Stott then proved his worth making a great block as Sam Duncum lined up to shoot from a good position; the home side trying to profit from having a decent amount of possession.

Although the first half was a fairly balanced affair, the Bucks had a good chance close to the break, as captain Steve Istead crossed in from the right hand side. The ball flew across the face of goal and Spencer got a touch on it before it came to the back post and was hit off the underside of the bar and inadvertently was saved from crossing the line by the head of Stott.

The second half began with the sun well on its descent behind the hills surrounding Silverlands. United had to wait only seven minutes after the restart to add to their lead, as the ball came in to Norton who tried to loop it over the keeper. Dootson initially palmed it out away from immediate danger however the striker leapt upon the loose ball and somehow scrambled it over the line.

Two-nil down and needing a way back in, the home side introduced the threatening prospect of prolific striker Mark Reed, however United were doing well to keep Buxton’s chances at a minimum and instead were linking up well to press forward themselves.

A couple of decent forward moves culminated first in a Lee Neville effort, before Greaves and Norton combined well to work the ball to Wright who won a corner. It was evident that Norton was benefitting from playing alongside a second striker and signs of a promising partnership were beginning to show.

During a spell in which United were making the best of a poor surface and playing good football, the Reds increased their advantage. Wright crossed from the left into Norton at the near post who headed between Dootson and the upright to score his second and United’s third.

FC were looking comfortable and with a cushioned lead, Marginson made three substitutions only minutes apart, perhaps having the plethora of forthcoming fixtures in mind. All three changes showed the depth of the squad and the quality of the options available.

The first change saw goal scorer Norton replaced by Rhodri Giggs. Marginson stuck with the same formation and Greaves shortly joined his strike partner on the bench as Daniels came on to play upfront alongside Giggs. Wright also made way for the third and final substitute, Astley Mulholland.

The Bucks looked to finish the encounter strongly and almost earned themselves a consolation. Kieran Lugsden in front of goal hit the ball under Spencer, however the keeper managed to keep it from crossing the line, denying the home side a chance to get onto the score sheet.

A strong second half performance gave United a great away victory in front of 1,121 at Silverlands; form which the Reds must look to build on at home to Kendal Town on Tuesday night.

Report by Victoria Fullen

Website Man of the Match: Dean Stott – an integral part of an assured back four, putting in some important blocks to keep Buxton at bay.

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First Posted ~ 17:34 Sat 2 Feb 2013
News ID ~ 4708
Last Updated ~ 12:43 Mon 4 Feb 2013