Warrington Town played out an entertaining 2-2 draw away at Buxton on the final day of the regular season, meaning they will host Nantwich Town in the play-off semi-finals.
After falling behind to Jude Oyibo’s driven strike, Warrington equalised through Bohan Dixon, only for Liam Hardy to put the hosts back in front just before the break.
Mark Roberts headed home the Yellows equaliser 12 minutes from full-time, and although both sides pushed for a winner, the closest either side came was through Russell Benjamin, who fired straight at Theo Roberts.
Town will now host the Dabbers in the play-offs on Tuesday night, with the winners going on to face either South Shields or Buxton.
Paul Carden made seven changes to his side for the final game of the regular season. Jay McCarten returned for his first Warrington appearance in over a year, alongside Shaun Beeley, Adam Hughes, Russell Benjamin, Bohan Dixon, Marcus Cusani and Connor McCarthy. They took the place of Mitch Duggan, Dave Raven, Alex Whittle, Ben Garrity, Jack Dunn, Jack Mackreth and Tony Gray.
The hosts adjusted to the torrential conditions quickly and had the first big chance of the game four minutes in. After Town failed to fully clear their lines from a corner, the ball dropped to Oyibo, who was unable to beat the sprawled Tony McMillan.
Just two minutes later, Warrington came close to breaking the deadlock themselves. Shaun Beeley produced a delightful ball down the right channel for Connor McCarthy to chase. The striker did superbly to deliver a teasing low cross, but Marcus Cusani was unable to latch onto the end of it.
Both sides looked intent on throwing caution to the wind, and it was Buxton who hit the front after eight minutes. A clearing header from McCarten only went as far as Oyibo, who controlled well before drilling the ball into the far corner from the right corner of the area.
Despite suffering their early setback, Warrington continued to dominate the ball and twice came close to equalising just before the 20-minute mark. Robbie Evans was given too much time on the edge of the Buxton area, but his strike went narrowly wide of goal, before Dylan Vassallo’s testing cross from the right was clawed away by Roberts.
Bucks continued to grow into the game as the half wore on, and with half-an-hour on the clock, they had a golden chance to double their lead. Oyibo manage to dribble his way into the Yellows box but hesitated for too long at the vital moment, his eventual miscued shot rolling harmlessly through to McMillan.
Warrington seemed to take that chance as a wake-up call, and just nine minutes later, they equalised through Dixon. Adam Carden – who was brought on after injury to Adam Hughes midway through the half – delivered a superb cross from the left flank, and the 29-year-old was left unmarked to head beyond the stranded Roberts.
However, parity lasted just four minutes as the hosts restored their one-goal advantage just before the break. After Town gave the ball away in the middle of the park, Buxton countered quickly, the ball was rolled out to Liam Hardy, and the striker took a touch before guiding a shot across the face of goal beyond the reach of McMillan.
The second half started as evenly as the first ended, but with 52 minutes gone, Bucks had a great chance to extend their lead. Callum Chippendale’s deflected strike rolled into the path of Oyibo once more. With McMillan stranded and the goal at his mercy, the winger somehow struck the bar from close-range.
At the other end, Warrington continued to attack with intent and nearly grabbed a second through Dixon, but he could only divert McCarthy’s floated cross wide with a glancing header. Shortly after, Vassallo did superbly to beat two men on the corner of the penalty area, his cutback failed to find anyone in yellow.
Nevertheless, the endeavour and determination of Paul Carden’s side paid off as they equalised with 12 minutes remaining. After Alex Brown inadvertently sliced behind for a corner, Vassallo produced an in-swinging corner and Roberts climbed highest to powerfully head home inside the six-yard box.
As the game reached its final minutes, the visitors continued to press, and after Buxton made a mess of clearing a corner, Benjamin tried to shoot through a cluster of bodies from the edge of the area, but his effort went straight down the throat of Roberts.
Both sides went in search of the winner in stoppage time, but neither could find a way through as the points were shared.
Buxton FC: Roberts, Roscoe, N. DeGirolamo, Dean, Brown, Sephton, Chippendale (Grayson 81), Young, Oyibo (D.DeGirolamo 85), Pritchard, Hardy (Meade 90+4)
Subs not used: Freeland, Bruce
Warrington Town: McMillan, Beeley, Roberts, McCarten, Hughes (Carden 36), Benjamin, Evans, Cusani, Dixon (Garrity 77), Vassallo, McCarthy (Mackreth 71)
Subs not used: Dunn, Gray