AN early strike from Ash Dove had Buckland Athletic Reserves in front during Tuesday night’s Devon Football League South & West clash with Paignton Saints.
But despite a largely composed performance, the Bucks would ultimately go down 5-2 at Homers Heath – Jamie Micklewright’s late double adding some gloss to the scoreline.
Dove got the game’s opening goal after just five minutes when he skinned his defender with a classy touch before firing past visiting keeper Travis Rowland.
The hosts rattled the woodwork 15 minutes later when striker George Phillips headed against the post from a corner.
And full-back Josh Hurren would see another great chance to double the advantage blocked by a defender after he’d dispossessed Rowland.
Moments later and the Saints were level, Connor Stewart getting on the end of a low ball across the box to tap in.
The visitors rattled the frame of the goal themselves when Micklewright’s free-kick hit the crossbar with home stopper Jacob Mortimore rooted.
But a huge slice of luck saw them complete the turnaround five minutes before the break, when Jake Powell’s strike took a heavy deflection which left Mortimore with no chance of keeping it out.
Matt Micklewright would break the second half deadlock and extend his side’s lead when he cut in and fired low into the net.
Back came Buckland, though, and when full-back Rhys Fuller volleyed in off the post from a corner it looked as though the sides were set for a grandstand finish.
But practically from the resulting kick-off, Jamie Micklewright went straight up the other end and restored his side’s two-goal cushion.
The striker got his brace in the dying stages after Mortimore gave away a spot-kick which he dispatched into the left-hand corner.
In the eyes of Bucks boss Craig Hutcheson, it could have been a very different game had some of the early chances fallen for them.
‘In the first half we scored a good goal, and I think we should have capitalised on that when we had a bit of ascendency,’ he said.
‘The one which hit the post was unfortunate, and then Josh Hurren has had a good chance pushing up from left-back and the defender’s made a great block. If those two go in it’s a completely different game.
‘And then we fought hard to stay in it. At one point it could’ve gone either way, but they’ve taken their chances well.
‘The deflection was very cruel just before half-time. I spoke to the keeper and he said it was going for one corner an ended up going in the other, so there was nothing he could’ve done.
‘We got back to 3-2 and I wanted to give ourselves five minutes to get the momentum going, but within two minutes they broke away and scored.
‘We just switched off. Jamie Micklewright’s a good player, he’s been around and knows how to score goals. He showed that tonight.’
Having lost 6-0 away at title contenders Mount Gould on Saturday, Hutcheson was also pleased with how well his side came out of the blocks in this one.
‘The first half probably one of the best we’ve played,’ he explained. ‘The biggest thing for me was the bounce-back after Saturday.
‘Going down to Mount Gould, who are a very good outfit, was always going to be a tough afternoon. The lads had to really dug in after going 3-0 down in 10 minutes.
‘For them to provide that response tonight was encouraging, and I have a group of lads here who want to work, help each other and develop.
‘It doesn’t get any easier – we’ve got Teignmouth away on Saturday [3pm] – but we know football is a challenge.
‘I do feel pain, to be honest. It does hurt, because I want to do good things for the club and for the players.
‘At the moment it’s not quite happening, but we’ve just got to stand by what we’re trying to do.’