Street 3 - 3 Buckland Athletic
Tuesday 29th August 2017Two of the sides fancied to be battling it out at the top of the Western League Premier Division come the end of April, served up a six-goal treat at the Tannery on Tuesday night writes Kerry Miller.
In the end a draw was a fair result and one celebrated more by the home side who had suffered a loss of form and confidence which manifested itself in three defeats on the spin.
Buckland however went to the Tannery with a 100% record following five straight wins and sat proudly on the top of the table.
Street were without suspended Lee Sweet but both teams were strong and in front of a good crowd Craig Herrod was quickly into action, setting up Steve Murray whose first time shot produced a fine save from Kenny Griffiths. Herrod then wriggled into the penalty area but from a good position hesitated and stubbed his shot. Buckland struck immediately with their first real attack as Richard Groves got free down the flank and his cross was neatly turned in by Charlie Johansen.
What confidence Street had from the positive start looked as if it could drain away just as sharply as it came back, and after the returning Lewis Tasker wasted a free-kick, he set up Herrod who should have scored by skied the chance from a good position. Street were finding plenty of room and were carving out chances as Buckland struggled to cope with the speed and weight of numbers but the home side could do little about the second strike, which would be a contender for goal of the season in any league, midway through the half. Lloyd Gardner collected the ball just inside his own half and accelerated past three opponents before his inch perfect lob from way out gave Tom Punchard no chance to make it 2-0 and all of a sudden Street were in trouble and in danger of a bigger hammering.
To their credit they regrouped and within a minute had halved the deficit as Murray beat a static offside line and squared the ball for Dave O’Hare to score from close range. Buckland then tested the home defence again as Groves and Johansen combined, forcing a free-kick but it was wasted leaving Street to look for the leveller on the half hour but Herrod’s effort was deflected over for a corner. He then had another fine effort clip the crossbar but they were not to be denied as Tasker was given far too much space on the wing and his cross eventually found Murray who bundled in his fifth goal of the season after 36 breathless minutes.
Buckland were stunned and it got worse three minutes later when Murray hit a rocket from distance which found the net before Griffiths could move and from 2-0 down and almost out Street were 3-2 up and buzzing.
It was unlikely that the sides could keep up such a frantic pace after the break and for a shot while the game was scrappy with Groves picking up a caution for a challenge which brought the inevitable bout of peacock type strutting about but referee Rutter calmed the situation. Ollie Morris and Gardner then joined him after a brief clash but football soon broke out again as Harry Foster sliced a shot wide from a good position on the right. Groves then curled a free-kick past the post before on the hour Foster’s pace was too much for Buckland, who by then were finding the speed of the game difficult to handle, and he crossed for the unmarked O’Hare to side foot his shot wide.
Murray limped off to be replaced by Josh Wadham and he was soon in the action as he crossed to Foster, who somehow scooped the ball over from a yard out. Predictably it proved costly as after being under the cosh for some while the Devon side struck when Jared Lewington moved through the centre and beat Punchard with a shot from 20 yards to make it 3-3 with minutes left.
A succession of injuries and stoppages extended the final moments but in the end both sides collected a point from a game which was a credit to the league and one which bodes well for the season ahead. Buckland stay top, three points ahead of Melksham Town, who won 6-0 at Longwell Green Sports, and Willand who won at Wells City.
This Saturday Buckland and Melksham clash at Homers Heath in another juicy fixture while Street go to Hallen.