Matlock Town 1-2 Buxton
Buxton came from behind to beat ten man Matlock in a Boxing Day derby filled with controversy.
The Bucks certainly got the better treatment from inept official Sean Richardson who clearly was not up to the job in refereeing a derby of such intensity.
Craig Nelthorpe’s fine strike gave the Gladiators a 23rd minute lead with Buxton replying through the league’s top scorer Liam Hardy with more than a tinge of good fortune ten minutes later. Bradley Barraclough won all three points for the visitors six minutes from time. Matlock skipper Ted Cribley was sent off for a 51st minute altercation with Jamie Green.
Buxton were unfortunate not to go in front early on when from a right wing corner, Joel Bembo Leta’s goalward header found the slightest of deflections off Micky Harcourt’s studs to roll against the post before being hacked clear.
Matlock replied with Niall McManus finding space to see a powerful shot blocked by Glen Belezika. Laurie Wilson’s free kick then found Joel Purkiss whose cross fizzed across the Bucks’ penalty box before Matlock took the lead in fine style in the 23rd minute.
Cribley was the creator finding NELTHORPE on the left with an inch perfect diagonal pass and the winger took the ball in his stride to ling low cross drive past Phil Barnes into the opposite corner.
Stung by going behind, the Bucks came roaring back. Willis somehow reacted superbly to tip away a header from Warren Burrell which may have even deflected awkwardly off a home defender. Then the Town goalkeeper was well placed to hold a header by Hardy before Niall Doran shot across the face of goal.
An equaliser looked likely but when it came on 33 minutes there was huge doubt as to whether it should have been allowed.
Poor positioning from the referee had blocked Liam Needham from reaching a pass in midfield. That was unfortunate but when the ball, was punted forward, Willis looked to be clearly held down by a Buxton forward as he tried to gather the ball which ran free for HARDY to chip efficiently into a vacant net from the edge of the box.
Buxton then had to replace Barnes who had a shoulder injury with youngster Myles Wright but Matlock never tested the fledgling goalkeeper seriously or often enough.
Nicky Travis was nearly cut in half by a terrible over the top challenge from Burrell which saw just a yellow card issued when many referees would have issued a straight red, evidence at this relatively early stage of the official losing control.
A teasing free kick from Nelthorpe on the stroke of half time might have brought joy as just a touch could have seen Matlock regain the lead. They came out positively in the second half with Nelthorpe releasing Purkiss on the left whose cross was well cut out by Bembo-Leta.
But Cribley’s sending off rocked Matlock. The midfielder admitted afterwards he was wrong to react but the official had missed a clear stamp by the opponent, so it should really have been ten versus ten for the rest of the contest.
Ironically Matlock then created the next two chances and were unfortunate on both occasions. Firstly Purkiss did well to set up McManus who cut inside to scorch a shot narrowly over the bar before in a role reversal, Purkiss swivelled to fire in an equally ferocious strike which also whistled narrowly over the bar.
Wilson and Adam Yates were outstanding for Matlock in the heart of the back four with Bembo-Leta equally impressive for Buxton. Mr Richardson again angered the home crowd when he missed an awful challenge on Yates which resulted in lengthy treatment for the Gladiators favourite.
Buxton increased the tempo towards the end, a fine last ditch challenge from Wilson denying Barraclough, and it seemed as if a draw would result which would have been fair on the day. But BARRACLOUGH made the headlines sweeping in a cross from the left to give Buxton’s play off hopes increased momentum.
There was still time for substitute Dan Cockerline to cut in and fire wide from distance and then McManus to head a Nelthorpe cross narrowly too high before the referee blew for full time to be jeered off by Matlock’s best league crowd of the season and remain locked in the dressing room with the match assessor for what seemed an age afterwards.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 George Willis 2 Micky Harcourt (16 Jason Paling 46) 3 Ben Algar 4 Laurie Wilson 5 Adam Yates 6 Nicky Travis (15 Dan Cockerline 85) 7 Ted Cribley 8 Liam Needham 9 Joel Purkiss (12 Danny Holland 74) 10 Niall McManus 11 Craig Nelthorpe Other subs: 14 Alex Peterson 17 Charlie Dawes
BUXTON: 1 Phil Barnes (17 Myles Wright 35) 2 Glen Belezika (14 Ash Burbeary 58), 3 Jamie Green 4 Alex Wiles 5 Joel Bembo-Leta 6 Greg Young 7 Niall Doran 8 Warren Burrell 9 Bradley Barraclough 10 Liam Hardy (12 Ash Worsfold 82) 11 Tom Buckley Other subs: 15 George Grayson 16 Fabrice Bembo-Leta
REFEREE: S Richardson (Huthwaite)
ATTENDANCE: 651 BEST GLADIATOR: Laurie Wilson BEST BUCK: Joel Bembo-Leta