Eastwood committed a smash and grab raid on Non League Day to go home with all three points having been outplayed.
But Matlock could not tuck away their chances and from the solitary one the visitors created, former Gladiator Tyeisse Nightingale netted.
That goal came four minutes before the interval and gave Eastwood something to hold on to. Matlock boss Mark Atkins had in midweek stressed the importance of getting the first goal, his thoughts were emphatically illustrated as try as they did, Matlock could not find a reply.
For all their dominance of the possession, Matlock failed to properly test goalkeeper Sam Andrew. The Gladiators finishing sadly could not match the neatness of their approach play and they were left to reflect upon what could prove to be a damaging defeat as Eastwood leapfrogged above them in the table.
The procession towards the Eastwood goal lasted virtually from start to finish. Inside ninety seconds Matthew Hamshaw’s free kick was headed over by Lewis McMahon who would also shoot or head off target on three more first half occasions. Massiah McDonald fired over the bar as he ran at the Eastwood defence, Adam Yates headed too high from a set piece and Phil Roe blazed similarly off target.
So when Eastwood scored it came as a major surprise. They had briefly threatened a couple of minutes earlier when the close control of Antony Griffiths-Junior in the box had Matlock retreating with Micky Harcourt, earlier booked for dissent, deflecting the shot wide for a fruitless corner.
But when Eastwood attacked down the right, a cross was played towards the near post where NIGHTINGALE beat James Lukic to steer the ball past Kennedy from close range.
Even then, the thought of Matlock not gaining something from the clash never entered many fans minds. McMahon had the ball in the net almost immediately but the assistant’s flag ruled the effort out.
Early in the second half Matlock should really have been awarded one, if not two penalties. Romaine Graham clearly held Massiah McDonald back but referee Joe Hull waved for play to continue and then a McDonald cross struck Josh Raven on the hand but again the official saw no wrongdoing.
In between Glyn Cotton cut in to fire narrowly wide from the edge of the box and Matlock introduced strikers Joe Leesley and Jordan Thewlis.
As time ebbed away Matlock began to look desperate and they were trying their luck from long range. Oscar Radford’s thirty yarder sped wide and a strike from McMahon from a similar distance was comfortably gathered by Andrew.
Eastwood were reduced to ten men in the 81st minute when substitute Adam Soames was sent off for a two footed tackle on Roe. But still the hosts could not find the breakthrough. McDonald’s shot on the run swerved wide and Leesley’s header dropped agonisingly the wrong side of a post. Deep into stoppage time Roe’s free kick was just too high before the final whistle shrilled to confirm daylight robbery had been committed.
The effort and commitment from Matlock could not be faulted. Unfortunately that clinical finish was noticeable by its absence.
MATLOCK TOWN: Jon Kennedy, Micky Harcourt, Phil Roe, Martin Foster (Kane Richards 73), Oscar Radford, James Lukic, Matthew Hamshaw (Jordan Thewlis 57), Adam Yates, Massiah McDonald, Lewis McMahon, Glyn Cotton (Joe Leesley 57) Other subs: Lee Featherstone, Nick Buxton.
Referee: J Hull–Stockport Attendance: 371 Star Man: Lewis McMahon