Two testing festive derbies brought a defeat followed by a victory for Matlock Town as they go into the new year in a relatively comfortable mid table spot.

Buxton came to the Autoworld Arena on Boxing Day and went home with all three points after a controversial 2-1 victory against ten man Matlock who had captain Ted Cribley sent off six minutes into the second half. But Matlock recovered admirably to make the short trip to Ilkeston on Monday and inflict only the second home league defeat of the season on the Robins, and their first since Skelmersdale United were 3-1 winners on the season’s opening day.

Charlie Dawes, who had an unproductive loan spell at Matlock from Chesterfield last term, scored the 40th minute winner in his first full game since joining the Gladiators from Mickleover Sports a fortnight ago, to give Matlock a deserved win and take away some of the anguish from the Buxton defeat.

Matlock felt hard done to by referee Sean Richardson against the Bucks who allowed the visitors a controversial equaliser after Craig Nelthorpe had put Matlock in front. Goalkeeper George Willis looked to have been fouled as he grappled for the ball and Liam Hardy showed no mercy as he chipped in the equaliser. Then after the sending off and other controversial moments, Bradley Barraclough grabbed an 84th minute winner for the Bucks.

“A point would have been fair” said Matlock boss Mark Hume. “The difference was that their numbers nine and ten took their chances and we didn’t. The referee was poor, he didn’t give us one single thing all afternoon, okay it was an error by George leading up to the equaliser but he was also fouled and the referee totally ignored that. Ted did a silly thing and he knows that but again the initial offence went unpunished.”

So a positive reaction was called for by both Hume and the fans and they got it at Ilkeston’s New Manor Ground on Monday.

“It was a good reaction, we played well but again we missed chances to kill them off” added Hume. “Ilkeston are a good young side, they keep the ball well but they didn’t hurt us and that’s down to our hard work. Everyone put in a good shift, we had to work hard for don’t forget we were playing a full time side. There were some very good performances out there, Craig Nelthorpe was brilliant as was Adam Yates in the second half. It was important we won after Saturday yet if you look at it from the point of view that two draws would have been good, we’re better off points wise winning one and losing one.”

Grantham Town, three places and a point behind Matlock having played two games more, are the first visitors to the Autoworld Arena in 2016, having won their last three tussles with the Gladiators. Hume says the memories of the 2-1 defeat at The Meres in September are painful, his side being ahead until three minutes from time before conceding two late goals.

“We lost after playing well and really outplaying them but not having that killer instinct so it’s something we’ve got to take on board and try and put right. We need to keep on picking up points and to do that we have to take our chances.”

Micky Harcourt could be missing for possibly a fortnight after coming off against Buxton with hamstring trouble, while Ben Algar could be back in the squad this weekend after being ill for the Ilkeston game.

Meanwhile Laurie Wilson was back at one of his old clubs and made skipper for the day on Monday. The midfielder, who has been slotted into a central defensive position of late alongside Adam Yates, was a fans favourite at Ilkeston before later moves to Grantham, Buxton and Belper Town.

“Being made skipper has to be special but the important thing was getting the right result, especially after Saturday. I’ve a lot of good memories from my time at Ilkeston but I’m a Matlock player now and no matter who you’re up against it’s a matter of going out there and performing and winning. It was a great result at Ilkeston, now we’ve got to go on and with no disrespect to Grantham, do the business in another very winnable game on Saturday. There’s a great set of lads here and there’s no reason why we can’t get up that table.”

Wilson’s father, Danny, has just been appointed Chesterfield’s new manager.

“It’ll do him good and be brilliant for the family as it’ll get him out of the house” he joked.

Ian Richardson

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