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Warrington Town settle for third and preserve unbeaten run for the play-offs

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Pictures John Hopkins

WARRINGTON Town will face Nantwich Town in the Evo-Stik League Premier Division play-offs on Tuesday night after rounding off the regular season with a 2-2 draw at Buxton.

In atrocious conditions, an understrength Yellows side twice came from behind to pick up a point, though the result was largely irrelevant due to South Shields’ win elsewhere that secured them second place.

Bohan Dixon and Mark Roberts got on the scoresheet with headers in either half as Warrington ended the season with a points haul of 84 from 40 games and the best defensive record in the league (33 conceded).

Nantwich will now visit Cantilever Park on Tuesday for a 7.45pm kick-off.

Long-serving centre-back James McCarten made his first appearance for the Yellows since getting injured in a draw at Altrincham back in January 2018, as Dave Raven was among the players rested by boss Paul Carden.

Connor McCarthy was handed a start up front and Russell Benjamin started in midfield, with regulars Ben Garrity, Tony Gray, Jack Mackreth and Jack Dunn joining Raven on the sidelines.

They will no doubt have been glad for the respite on a treacherous afternoon of relentless wind and rain which no doubt had Buxton thankful for their artificial pitch, installed last summer.

Playing in to the wind first half, Buxton forced the first corner inside three minutes and went it was only half cleared, Jude Oyibo had the first chance, shooting from the right and seeing it steered away by the legs of Tony McMillan.

Four minutes later and he converted an almost carbon copy chance, this time firing across McMillan after McCarten’s header hadn’t cleared the box.

The Yellows had a couple of half looks from crosses without creating a clear cut chance, Marcus Cusani having a shot from 35 yards after McCarthy had forced a rushed clearance out of the ‘keeper.

Oyibo should have made it two on the half hour mark as both Adam Hughes and McCarten were guilty of sloppy passes across the edge of the box, but he delayed the shot too long and ended up scuffing through to the ‘keeper.

Hughes was forced off a knock soon after, and his replacement Adam Carden would be an unlikely creator of the equaliser on 39 minutes.

He cut on to his right foot from the left and delivered a teasing ball that was headed home from five yards out by Bohan Dixon.

The lead was short lived, a mix-up in midfield between Benjamin and Robbie Evans created space for Buxton and Ash Young’s pass found Liam Hardy in space, and the striker’s powerful shot slipped through the hands of McMillan for a 2-1 half time lead.

With no sign of the Gainsborough win that would put pressure on Buxton, and also enable the Yellows to potentially nab second place, eyes and ears were largely on events elsewhere.

Buxton should have doubled their lead on 52 minutes when Oyibo hit the crossbar from point blank range, after Young’s shot had been held up by a deflection off his own man.

Warrington introduced Jack Mackreth and Ben Garrity off the bench and they got an equaliser on 78 minutes, Vassallo’s corner went in to the right area and Roberts couldn’t miss with a header from yards out.

There only looked like one winner in the closing stages as the Yellows knocked on the door, though only Benjamin’s saved shot represented a real chance.

Buxton: Roberts, Roscoe, Brown, N De Girolamo, Dean, Sephton, Chippendale (Grayson), Young, Oyibo (D De Girolamo), Hardy (Meade), Pritchard. Unused subs: Freeland, Bruce.

Warrington Town: McMillan, Beeley, Hughes (Carden), Benjamin, Roberts, McCarten, Vassallo, Evans, McCarthy (Mackreth), Dixon (Garrity), Cusani. Unused subs: Dunn, Gray.

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Journalist and sport content specialist, who is also editor of Love Rugby League. Formerly ran the official website of the Carling Cup, as well as operating a digital services business in Warrington.

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