Match Report: Buxton 2-2 South Shields
South Shields were forced to settle for a point as Buxton twice battled back from a goal behind in a match played in treacherous conditions at Silverlands.
Robert Briggs handed the Mariners an ideal start by prodding his side in front within the first two minutes and although third-placed Buxton equalised, Shields took a lead into half-time thanks to a superb volley from Jack Bodenham.
Kevin Phillips’ side were left frustrated when Jamie Ward’s dink earned the Bucks a share of the spoils, but the result kept Shields four points ahead of their opponents in the Pitching In Northern Premier League, and closed the gap on leaders Matlock Town to two points.
With Cedric Main missing out through injury, Phillips brought Darius Osei into the starting line-up and there were two more changes, with the fit-again Myles Boney and Jordan Hunter re-introduced to the team.
A strong start was desired and that was just what Shields delivered.
With less than two minutes on the clock, Blair Adams advanced down the left and teased in a superb low cross which bounced in the area and was forced over the line by Briggs, whose initial prodded effort had been blocked.
Osei also enjoyed a bright opening to the game and he went close to making it two, using his strength and pace to get in behind before his low strike from a tight angle was saved by the legs of goalkeeper Theo Richardson.
The Mariners were pressing persistently and they forced an error from their hosts on 11 minutes when the ball broke to Nathan Lowe, who drove through the centre before powering a low shot just past the post from 20 yards.
Against the run of play, though, Buxton equalised on the quarter-hour mark.
After Boney had brilliantly tipped a 20-yard attempt by Mackenzie Heaney wide, the resulting corner by Ward caught the wind and struck the crossbar before striking Jason Gilchrist and heading towards goal. Boney clawed it away but the officials controversially ruled the ball had crossed the line and the home side celebrated an equaliser, with Gilchrist registering a goal against his former club.
In swirling wind, driving rain and cold conditions which seriously challenged both teams, Shields responded well and were back in front on 26 minutes.
Lowe curled in a superb corner from the right and Bodenham met it with a terrific volley on the turn which arrowed into the top corner as he netted his second goal for the club. (CHECK)
The Mariners held their lead relatively comfortably into half-time, although Chris Dawson did curl an effort not far wide from distance for the hosts four minutes before the break.
There were few clear-cut chances in the second half, although Shields did have the better of the play in the early exchanges of it.
Briggs sent a half-volley narrowly wide from 20 yards, Osei had a low shot tipped wide and a Lowe free-kick from long range was impressively saved by Richardson.
But the fourth and final goal went the way of Buxton midway through the second half, with Ward delicately clipping the ball over Boney from the left of the area after being played in on goal.
There were opportunities for both sides to claim a winner, the first of which fell to Sam Hodgson as he latched onto a ball over the top by Boney, but he was unable to get enough on his header to beat Richardson.
There was a goal-line clearance apiece in the closing stages, with Shields substitute Alex Kempster denied at one end before Bodenham made an acrobatic stop to ensure neither team would claim maximum points.
The Mariners will look to continue their impressive run when they travel to Morpeth Town for an eagerly-awaited derby match on Tuesday.
South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Adams (c), McGowan, Morse, Bodenham, Tee (Jenkins 76), Lowe, Hodgson, Briggs, Osei (Kempster 76). Subs not used: Shaw, Rose, Rossiter.
Goals: Briggs (2), Bodenham (26).
Image: Kev Wilson.