A week is a long time in politics, they say, and that’s also true of football. In the eight days since the Bucks fell to a humbling 3-0 defeat at Darlington, the club has dispensed with the services of former manager Gavin Cowan, along with his staff.
Into Cowan’s shoes stepped Dennis Greene, assisted by former Bucks striker Alex Meechan. Greene was once a member of the Magic Circle, had a few tricks up his sleeve and changed the team’s formation, presenting in-form Spennymoor with the challenge of breaking down two lines of four, but also managed to pull the occasional rabbit from the hat.
The hosts were looking for a fourth successive victory in the Vanarama National League North, and their first-ever win over Telford in a competitive fixture. They made the faster start and from an early corner, defender Joe Tait’s header back across goal had the visitors’ keeper Russ Griffiths on red alert; he used his legs to deny Glen Taylor from just a few feet out and got in the way of a second effort also.
Moors marksman Taylor is a player most teams at this level would sign in a heartbeat, and he is the beating heart of the County Durham side. His link-up with Rob Ramshaw allowed the No.10 to strike at goal early in the game, and the two posed Telford problems all afternoon.
The Bucks looked to counter-attack when possible, and just before the half-hour should have led.
Kai Williams created the chance with his pace, and his low cross to the near post found Jason Oswell. He took a touch before swivelling to shoot, and the touch may have been decisive, as it allowed Dale Eve and a defender to block his effort when a first-time effort on goal may have opened the scoring.
Moors went closer still just after 30 minutes mark when Ramshaw slid through the six-yard box but couldn’t connect with a low cross, the ball narrowly going wide of the far post. Undeterred, Brad Abbott was next to strike at goal, his shot on the run going wide.
The last act of the first half was another Bucks effort that could have brought more reward, as Elliott Durrell collected possession at the end of a counter-attack and struck a curling shot from the ‘D’ that Eve saved.
The game’s decisive spell came in the 10 minutes that followed half-time. It was sparked by Abbott’s rising snap-shot from the edge of the box, which beat Griffiths to his left but rebounded back into play off the angle of post and crossbar.
Taylor didn’t need asking twice to take the initiative, and on 50 minutes he was on the end of a move that opened the Bucks up down their left. When the ball was played back to the penalty spot, Taylor was there, running in to rifle an emphatic finish through Griffiths, who got his arm to the ball but watched it rocket off him, high into the net.
Within a minute, he almost doubled the lead when his shot across Griffiths hit the inside of the post and rebounded back along the goalline for a grateful Griffiths to grab. His relentless assault on goal continued, and in no time at all, he smashed an angled rising volley over the bar as the Bucks reeled.
Greene’s side had to stay in the game, and they did. Durrell was trying to direct operations for the Bucks, who had brought new loan signing Cameron Antwi on at half-time. Oswell headed a Durrell cross wide, but the chances for either side began to dry up.
On 75 minutes, the Bucks almost received the gift of an equaliser. A corner from Durrell arrived low in the six-yard box and a wild swing by a Moors defender almost sliced the ball into his own net, the hosts clearing off the line as the Bucks claimed the goal.
Greene made a double substitution and one of the pair introduced, Dom McHale, had some lively moments as the Bucks refused to give up the ghost, seeing a shot blocked at the end of another counter-attack.
Moors took the ball straight to the other end and Bucks captain Adam Walker was booked after scything his man down in trying to redeem his initial slip. Taylor went for goal from the free-kick, and Griffiths made a great save from his fierce shot that pierced the defensive wall.
The rain that had held off all afternoon started to descend as the Bucks continued in vain, McHale clearing the crossbar with their most meaningful effort, but the Moors had done enough and celebrated a hard-won three points.
Although he may possess a magic wand, Greene wasn’t able to produce any real magic; whether the Bucks improved showing here is evidence of better times ahead, or merely an illusion, is something only time will tell.
Spennymoor: Eve, Magnay, Tait, Kennedy, Hall, McLean, Moke, Abbott, Chandler, Taylor, Ramshaw. Subs not used: Flatters, Thompson, Hindson, Mulhern, Peterson.
Telford (4-4-2): Griffiths, Berkoe, White, Jed Abbey (Antwi 45), Streete, Roberts, Walker, Oswell, Birch (Byrne 75), Durrell, Williams (McHale 75). Subs not used: Hamilton, Bood.