Tuesday 8th July 2014
Buxton 0 Altrincham 1
Kick-off 7-15 pm
Admission: £6; Programmes: none; Teamsheet: free
Weather: warm and sunny
Tonight’s friendly caught my eye as it provided an opportunity to revisit a favourite ground and drive along the iconic Leek to Buxton road past the famous Roaches. It pitted Conference National newboys Altrincham visiting a Buxton side which finished last season in 13th position in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division.
The match, one of those slowburners that got better the longer it went on, was settled by a solitary goal in favour of Alltrincham, scored midway through the second half by substitute Damien Reeves.
I’ve never compiled a top 10, top 25 or even a top 100 list of grounds I have had the pleasure to visit. Prime candidate for worthy consideration for the top 10 is Buxton’s Silverlands ground, visited for the third time this evening.
I remember my first visit to Silverlands well, one as a final-year student at what was known as Sheffield City 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 the late-night train back to Sheffield.
Six years ago, I returned to Buxton for a pre-season friendly against Shrewsbury Town – daylight rather than black night – and fell in love with the place! Such a picture on a sunny summer evening, the ground boasts an interesting 600-seater 50-year-old stand, cover on two of the three other sides and views to the south of the surrounding Peak District.
Teamsheets were plentiful inside the entrance and a couple of names stood out in the Altrincham side. Top of the list Dave Parton moved from Newcastle Town to Moss Lane during the summer while I recalled Jake Moult has a spell with Stafford Rangers a few years ago.
Buxton got the game underway attacking the covered Railway End in the first half. To confuse any latecomers, Buxton wore red instead of their more familiar yellow and blue while visitors Altrincham took to the field in yellow shirts.
Plenty of passing, attacking and honest endeavour during the first half though both goalkeepers were called upon to only make one decent save each. Adam Reid, once of Altrincham, produced a top-drawer save to turn round Nicky Clee’s 25-yard free-kick that seemed destined for the top-left corner. As the interval approached, Parton saved and held a low drive from Liam Hardy.
I spent the early part of the second half sitting in the stand, noticing in a notable increase in tempo and also the view to the ground. A distinctive rocky outcrop caught my eye.
Ryan Crowther saw a couple of deflected shots fly wide of the target despite wrong-footing Reid during the opening quarter hour of an increasing absorbing contest.
Varying my vantage point, I ended up in the right place at the right time to see the game’s only goal. It came midway through the second half and very much a classic centre-forward’s goal. James Lawrie crossed from the right and half-time replacement Damien Reeves powered a first-time header past Reid.
Despite substitutions made at various times during the second half – thankfully changes that the announcer and crowd could keep track of rather than of the ‘rolling’ variety like at Audley last Friday – the overall quality of the second 45 minutes hardly diminished.
Before heading back home, I popped into the Cask Marque accredited Railway Inn – four cask ales on offer and I opted for the appropriately named Railway Ale. The thing I’ll remember is leaving the car just after Germany scored their second goal against Brazil and walking into the pub a couple of minutes later to find the score had moved on astonishingly to 4-0!
While I’m not advocating sidestepping Silverlands to miss an entirely floodlight game, the ground is one to be savoured in daylight whatever the time of year.
Buxton (red/red/red) 1. Adam Reid, 2. Alex Byrne, 3. Jamie Green, 4. Steve Istead (capt), 5. Ash Palmer, 6. Greg Young, 7. Alastair Taylor, 8. Jonathan Williams, 9. Ben Hutchinson, 10. Liam Hardy, 11. Craig King. Subs: 12, Tim Ryan, 14. Neil Stevens, 15. Derek Niven, 16. Aaron Amesbury, 17 Stockton.
Altrincham (yellow/grey/yellow): 1. Dave Parton, 2. David Brown, 3. Adam Griffin, 4. Jake Moult, 5. Scott Leather, 6. Mike Williams (capt), 7. Simon Richman, 8. Greg Wilkinson, 9. Kyle Perry, 10. Ryan Crowther, 11. Nicky Clee. Subs: 12. Shaun Densmore, 14. Sean Williams, 15. James Lawrie, 16. Damian Reeves, 17. Tom Clarke, 18. Josh Samberg, 19. Max Pouncey.
Referee: Tim Walker (Belper).
Assistants: Steve Thompson (Chapel) and Terry Ratcliffe (Belper)
Attendance: 175 (headcount)
Duration (45): first-half: 45:52; second-half: 45:00
0-1 Damien Reeves (68)