Buxton 1-1 Matlock Town
Martin Foster’s penalty at the death earned Matlock a well deserved point in a feisty derby at the Silverlands after substitute Mark Red had headed Buxton in front in the 84th minute.
But even the most ardent of Buxton fans would concede that a draw was the very least that the Gladiators deserved. The Bucks were thankful that veteran goalkeeper Andy Warrington was in top form in the first half, pulling off three top drawer saves to prevent Matlock from taking control.
The offer of free admission enticed 531 fans to watch what was a typical local derby.
With Joe Leesley ill, Oscar Radford switched to left back with the returning Adam Yates partnering Jack Broadhead, who had a loan spell at Buxton earlier in the campaign, in central defence.
The other change from Saturday’s lack lustre defeat to Witton Albion was Cecil Nyoni replacing Corey Gregory in midfield.
Manager Mark Atkins and the Matlock followers were looking for a positive reaction and they most certainly got one.
Buxton had the first sniff of goal in the 2nd minute when they broke quickly from a Matlock free kick for former Gladiator Lee Morris to nod a Craig King cross wide.
But Matlock came roaring back and were desperately unfortunate not to take a ninth minute lead in a game of pinball around the hosts goal.
Massiah McDonald smacked a fierce shot which cannoned back off the bar to Broadhead whose instant follow up produced a top class stop from Warrington who was happy to see Radford drive narrowly wide from the loose ball.
After Morris was again comfortably off target with a sliced effort, Warrington then came to his side’s rescue once more with a fantastic 23rd minute diving save to beat away Broadhead’s header from a free kick, Shaun Tuton blazing the rebound yards wide.
Craig King always looked dangerous when Buxton attacked down their left, Neil Stevens meeting a cross to steer his header harmlessly wide. Morris would have been disappointed to pull a shot beyond the back post after Buxton had taken a 31st minute free kick speedily.
Lavell White hooked an effort wide before McDonald set up the winger whose header looked destined to find the target only for Warrington to make it a hat-trick of excellent stops.
Jon Kennedy was having a quiet time of it in comparison to Warrington, but with half time on the horizon, he did well to drop on a Stevens shot as an entertaining first half came to an end.
There had been drama off the pitch as well with Buxton stewards not allowing young Matlock fans to play their drums as they gave their favourites top class backing, a decision that did not impress the rest of the visiting fans!
Town exerted pressure at the start of the second half, now playing up the slope. Warrington was caught out of position but a poor White centre saw him escape without punishment, Stuart Ludlam was forced to desperately clear over his own bar and when the flag kick was only half cleared, Liam Needham drove wide from the edge of the box.
Reed’s introduction saw Buxton suddenly look more threatening, but it was Matlock who wasted a gilt edged opportunity with twenty minutes left, substitute Corey Gregory’s great cross from the right being scooped over the bar from twelve yards by Radford with the goal gaping.
It looked as if that might be a costly miss. Buxton had a goal disallowed when Kennedy was fouled as Reed headed in a 72nd minute corner.
The Town number one then saved brilliantly from a Matt Thornhill header but from the resulting corner REED found space to glance home a powerful header for what he and the Buxton fans thought was the winner.
But Matlock kept on plugging away and in the first minute of stoppage time, Broadhead was tripped by Ash Palmer. The referee took his time before blowing and pointing to the spot. FOSTER did the rest with a crisp low shot into the corner to level the game.
There was still four more minutes for both sets of fans to enjoy or bite their fingernails in a tense finale.
There were eight yellow cards as Warrington, Steve Istead, Morris, Thornhill and Reed were the Bucks in referee Hull’s notebook , being joined by Foster, Nyoni and McDonald of Matlock.
The Gladiators’ performance which was tons better than on Saturday.
“Full credit to the players who reacted superbly after Saturday’s poor show” said Atkins. “We bossed the game their keeper’s made three outstanding saves, we’ve hit the bar and after going behind we kept on going and deserved to win really. Everyone showed tremendous character and that’s what we want to see for the rest of the season.”
BUXTON: 1 Andy Warrington 2 Stuart Ludlam 3 Jamie Green 4 Steve Istead 5 Ash Palmer 6 Sam Brooks 7 Neil Stevens (15 Derek Niven 76) 8 Josh Davies (12 Kieran Lugsden 57) 9 Lee Morris (14 Mark Reed 57) 10 Matt Thornhill 11 Craig King Other subs: 16 James Handley 17 Tim Ryan
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 James Ashmore 3 Adam Yates 4 Martin Foster 5 Oscar Radford 6 Jack Broadhead 7 Liam Needham 8 Cecil Nyoni 9 Massiah McDonald (15 Daryll Thomas 90+5) 10 Shaun Tuton 11 Lavell White (12 Corey Gregory 68) Other subs: 14 Alex Bradshaw 16 Matty Wilkinson 17 Matty Leese
REFEREE: J Hull (Stockport) ATTENDANCE: 531 BEST GLADIATOR: Shaun Tuton