MATLOCK TOWN 2-1 BUXTON
Matlock sent most of a near capacity crowd of 2155 home happy coming from behind to beat their local rivals in an excellent top of the table clash at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Monday.
It sent the Gladiators to the top of the league with a one point advantage over the Bucks but at half time it was Buxton who held a five points advantage over the hosts with debutant loan winger Bradley Jackson having put them ahead on 28 minutes.
But within two minutes the complexion of the derby swung in Matlock’s favour as influential Bucks midfielder James Hurst was sent off for two yellow cards in the space of a minute. The Gladiators grew into the contest as half time approached before turning the match on its head in the second period. They had two goals disallowed before Ross Hannah levelled on 62 minutes, Reece Kendall then heading in the winner a quarter of an hour later.
Captain Liam Hughes was back in the Matlock starting eleven after suspension, Jamie Sharman dropping to the substitutes bench as Matlock began with Reece Kendall in the back three alongside Ioan Evans and Ryan Qualter. Goalkeeper Dan Wallis was also recalled after bring cup tied for the FA Trophy defeat by York City.
Buxton were without former Derby and Nottingham Forest midfielder Jamie Ward with hamstring trouble, Lynden Meikle also missing out through Covid. Jackson took Ward’s place while Ben Turner returned to their side after injury.
In a tentative start by both sides, Buxton had the first attempt on goal, Hurst’s strike from 25 yards drifting high and wide on 6 minutes, Matlock replying three minutes later when Kendall’s pin-point cross from the left was cleared only as far as Qualter whose header ran through to Bucks goalkeeper Theo Richardson.
Richardson then took a free kick just inside the Bucks half the ball travelling upfield at pace to land on the roof of the net!
It signalled a period when Buxton gained the upper hand forcing a number of corners which were all superbly dealt with by the Matlock defence. But the deadlock was broken when Matlock failed to clear their lines effectively and JACKSON hoisted a telling chip into the top corner.
Buxton had won at the Proctor Cars Stadium on their last two visits, hammering home ten goals and it gave them hopes of extending Matlock’s misery but Hurst who had thus far played a leading role was Buxton’s villain with two crazy yellow cards in very quick succession leaving his side a man down for the final two thirds of the contest.
His first indiscretion seemed to be for chirping at referee Ruebyn Ricardo who controlled the game superbly at just 24 years of age. Then within another minute a senseless lunge at Liam King confirmed his early bath, Mr Ricardo having no option but to sanction his dismissal.
Matlock won a free kick thirty yards from goal which Byrne chipped tamely at Richardson before Warren Clarke tried his luck from the left, his shot bouncing comfortably beyond the far post.
King who had also been booked collided with Richardson who made a meal of the challenge presumably in a bid to even up the numbers. King, nevertheless was replaced by brother in law Hannah with Ben Middleton replacing Turner for the Bucks as Matlock finished the half in the ascendancy.
The hosts’ best chance so far fell to Chippendale who burst through the heart of the Bucks back line with Richardson doing well to parry his fiercely struck shot. From the resulting corner Evans glanced narrowly wide before Hannah had the ball in the net with a diagonal shot in off a post but the assistant had his flag raised for offside.
Matlock were out a good four minutes before Buxton for the second half as steady rain continued to fall. They showed their intentions almost immediately, Jesurun Uchegbulam getting on the end of a Mark Lees pass behind the Buxton defence to slice a shot comfortably over the bar.
Shortly afterwards Richardson was alert to keep out a Chippendale shot, a Kendall header was blocked by a Bucks defender with Hannah then shooting too high from distance. All this occurred in the opening four minutes of the new half and the signs for Matlock were definitely more promising.
Then on 51 minutes a flowing Town move ended with Hannah netting but again the flag had been raised for offside.
Matlock brought off Alex Wiles for Sharman in the 58th minute and four minutes later they were level and this time Hannah’s shot did count!
A scramble in the Bucks penalty box saw Matlock refuse to be denied as Richardson blocked superbly successive headers from Chippendale and HANNAH, but the ball fell for Matlock’s experienced marksman to crash home the loose ball.
Buxton replaced Jackson with Dom Tear but they should really have been behind in Matlock’s next attack of substance, Uchegbulam miskicking from fifteen yards, his shot actually bouncing out for a throw when he should have found the target.
The Gladiators went close when Hannah flicked a header wide from a fine cross from Byrne but when they forced a 77th minute corner, a trademark delivery from Byrne was planted on to KENDALL’s head who rose unnoticed to send the home crowd wild as the ball nestled in the back of the Buxton net.
Uchegbulam made way for Nathan Okome, Buxton having a sniff of a chance when Tear’s drive towards the near post was held by Wallis. But they created little else as their passes forward were overhit and skidded out of play making Matlock’s task much easier. Ryan Qualter was again faultless as he marshalled Matlock’s back line.
In the end, Matlock’s greater desire on the day proved to be crucial as was Hurst’s madness which invited Matlock more into the game.
But it was a great advert for non league football and the huge crowd cannot fail to have been impressed with what they saw.