Buxton 1 Shrewsbury Town 3

Tuesday 5th August 2008
Buxton 1 Shrewsbury Town 3
Pre-Season Friendly
At: The Silverlands
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £1
Attendance: 200 (estimate)
Weather: showers
Duration: first-half: 45:18; second-half: 45:20

Listed amongst the football grounds I have previously visited prior to the end of my education, there aren’t that many I’ve not been back to – Hull City’s former Boothferry Park home, Elland Road and The Silverlands to name three off the top of my head. So after perusing The Football Traveller’s pre-season list and checking respective club websites, I set off to make my second visit to Buxton FC’s home, almost 23 years after the first.

My first trip was as a final-year student at what was known as Sheffield Poly for a midweek game on Tuesday 9th October 1984 in the Northern Premier League between Buxton and Stafford Rangers. A single goal from Chris Arnot gave Stafford a 1-0 that dark evening before returning by train which involved walking between New Mills Newton and New Mills Central stations to catch a late train back to Sheffield.

After 1984, the fortunes of Buxton went up and down, and they found eventually themselves in the Northern Counties East League from 1998/99 until gaining promotion back to the Unibond League as champions in 2005/06. They won the Unibond League Division One title at the first attempt in 2006/07 and last season, their first back in the Premier Division for ten years, saw Buxton lose a promotion play-off final to Gateshead and narrowly miss out on a place in Blue Square North.

Enough of the reminiscing, the opposition in this 2008/09 pre-season friendly, Shrewsbury Town, had the added interest of seeing two former Stafford players in action – Chris Humphrey and ace goalscorer Guy Madjo – as well as the commanding former Kidderminster Harriers keeper Scott Bevan. Guy was Stafford’s leading scorer in 2006/07 before departing last summer first for Crawley Town and then to Shrewsbury. Seeing him warming up with his current teammates made me think just what could have happened last season had he stayed at Marston Road.

The Silverlands is a lovely non-league ground and it was good to see it in daylight. Through the turnstiles, next to the railway cutting, from the road called Silverlands, there is a large seated stand along the near touchline on halfway with several rows of blue tip-up individual seats. Along on this side of the ground is the tea bar (hot and cold food and drink) and club shop. Behind the near goal is an area of covered terracing next to the social club and along the far touchline is another area of covered standing stretching from corner flag to corner flag. At the far end behind the goal (which is the eastern end of the ground) is an area of level tarmaced open standing.

Admission was £5 and on the other side of the turnstile was a club official selling programmes (£1) and raffle tickets (£1 per strip). Teamsheets were available and the line-ups were announced over the tannoy along with several club messages. With FC United of Manchester due to visit in 18 days time for a Unibond League Premier Division game, there was an appeal for volunteers to help as Buxton were expecting their biggest crowd for 30 years.

I took my seat in the stand and, with floodlights on from the start, Buxton got the game underway, attacking the uncovered end. It was a lively start and League Two title favourites Shrewsbury took the lead in the 13th minute. The referee plated advantage to allow Dave Hibbert to continue his run down the right after being tripped. The striker delivered a low cross towards the far post where Madjo clinically fired home. Not wanting to sound like wishing bad things on Buxton, it was good to watch Guy find the net.

The visitors scored again in the 20th minute when skipper Kelvin Langmead head home a deep corner delivered by Mark Lees. Barely a minute later it was 3-0. Hibbert somehow fired across the face of goal into the far right corner from a really tight angle. Cries of “C’mon Buxton” from fans under the covered terrace behind the goal tried to lift their side and Bevan was soon called into action to push away Michael Towey’s shot. The League Two side continued to create chances and on the half hour Hibbert aw a rising shot hit the underside on the bar and bounce down without crossing the line.

Drizzle turned to heavier rain at half time. Buxton made three changes at the interval and took to the field in the second half with Shrewsbury’s Jas Singh in goal.

During the first half, I overheard one fans say to his mate: “I don’t know where our goals are coming from” as well remark that Shrewsbury were fielding a strong side. Well, the answer came in the 84th minute. Michael Towey sent a low 25-yard drive into the bottom left corner of Bevan’s net after Gavin Knight played a part in creating the chance.

Buxton (blue/blue/blue): 1. Jason Stanley, 2. Grant Black, 3. Tommy Agus, 4. Mark Lees, 5. Gregg Anderson, 6. Scott Maxfield, 7. Dave Henry, 8. Michael Towey (capt), 9. Gavin Knight, 10. Mark Hume, 11. Steve Brodie. Subs: 14. Danny Smith (for Anderson, ht), 15. James Turley (for Brodie, 52), 16. Tom Griffiths (for Lees, 66), 17. Mark Balfe (for Hume, ht), 21. Jas Singh (for Stanley, ht), 4. Mark Lees (back on for Agus, 89) [Jaz Singh is a Shrewsbury goalkeeper].

Shrewsbury Town (red/red/red): 1. Scott Bevan, 2. Chris Humphrey, 3. Aaron Gibson, 4. Steve Leslie, 5. Kelvin Langmead (capt), 6. James Meredith, 7. Steve Hindmarsh, 8. Guy Madjo, 9. Dave Hibbert, 10. Michael Symes, 11. Marc Pugh. Subs: 12. Harry Hooman (for Gibson, 57) [just one substitution].

Referee: C. Kavanagh (Manchester).
Assistants: J. Simpson and R. Andrew.

0-1 Guy Madjo (13)
0-2 Kelvin Langmead (20)
0-3 Dave Hibbert (21)
1-3 Michael Towey (84)

Buxton: Mark Hume (YC, 35)
Shrewsbury: none