A Boxing Day point for draw specialists Matlock

Action from the Boxing Day fixture between Matlock Town and Buxton at the Reynolds Stadium.
Action from the Boxing Day fixture between Matlock Town and Buxton at the Reynolds Stadium.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Evo-Stik League Premier Division

Matlock Town 1

Lee Morris 59

Buxton Town 1

Bradley Barraclough 3

Matlock Town: Jon Kennedy, Micky Harcourt, Ben Hunter, Liam King, Adam Yates, Oscar Radford, Chris Bettney (Lee Morris 29), Steve Warne, Danny Davidson (Scott Bibby 84), Ian Holmes, Gareth Davies. Subs not used: Lee Whittington, Adam Sollitt.

Referee: D Benton – Sheffield

Attendance: 693

Star man: Lee Morris

Honours finished even in the big Derbyshire Evo-Stik Premier Division derby at the Reynolds Stadium on Boxing Day, but the 693 fans who turned out were left feeling rather short-changed by Sheffield referee David Benton’s performance.

Mr Benton took centre stage, sending off Matlock’s Ben Hunter for a second bookable offence in the 84th minute and booking Lee Morris.

Buxton had their record goalscorer Mark Reed and James Baxendale booked before half-time and after the interval.

Grant Black joined them before Kieran Lugsden saw red for a late lunge on Hunter and Bucks manager Scott Maxfield was sent to the stands, apparently for kicking over a water bottle.

Josh Wilde also went in the book for dissent.

The odd decision was warranted, but the players should have been allowed to make the headlines.

Matlock felt particularly aggrieved when Mr Benton disallowed an Ian Holmes header just 70 seconds after substitute Lee Morris had cancelled out Bradley Barraclough’s third minute opener.

Ian Holmes appeared to make no contact with Bucks custodian Scott Hartley as he headed Jon Kennedy’s massive clearance over the advancing goalkeeper in the 61st minute.

That turned out to be a match defining decision as a free-kick was awarded to Buxton.

Neither the visiting defenders nor assistant Nicholas Mason could see anything wrong.

But these decisions cannot hide a mixed Matlock performance in which they were second best in the first half before a half-time talking-to from boss Mark Atkins livened them up after the break.

They needed to improve, for apart from a couple of free kicks from Chris Bettney and Gareth Davies, and a long-range strike from Adam Yates which flew wide, the Buxton goal was seldom under threat.

But there was a great chance for them just before the half-time whistle when Oscar Radford nodded down a corner and Ian Holmes scooped his shot over from close range.

Matlock were immediately on the back foot thanks to a bright Buxton start.

Their record scorer Mark Reed was searching for his 200th goal in Bucks colours, but the lively Bradley Barraclough, on loan from Lincoln City, put them ahead, when, from their third corner, the ball ricocheted around in the home danger area and hit the striker on its way into the net. Matlock goalkeeper Jon Kennedy was left helpless.

Reed though came close to a landmark goal when his 43rd minute free-kick was pushed aside by Kennedy.

With skipper James Lukic missing through suspension, Matlock were glad that the returning Radford deputised superbly, alongside the nearly always consistent Adam Yates in the centre of defence.

Hunter, who began nervously at left back, got better and better as the match progressed and played an integral part in the Matlock equaliser.

Atkins told his team a few home truths while they sipped their half-time tea and it brought about an improved showing.

Steve Warne’s cross from the left was headed out for a corner by Sam Liversedge, who had replaced Curtley Williams at half-time.

Then Hartley gathered a free-kick from Morris before, in a matter of seconds, Maxfield went to the stands and Lugsden to the shower.

And it looked as if Buxton’s world was falling apart when on 59 minutes, Hunter weaved his path in from the left to cross low for Morris to force home from point blank range.

Morris deserved his goal for he showed tenacity and strength as he led the Matlock attack well after replacing the injured Chris Bettney in the 29th minute.

The turnaround looked complete but Mr Benton ruled out Holmes’s header, and although Matlock looked firm favourites to secure maximum points, they needed more steadiness and thrust in front of goal.

Liam King drove tamely at Hartley before Danny Davidson outpaced two defenders but screwed his shot past the back post. Holmes produced a great shot, palmed aside by Hartley at full stretch.

But Matlock were knocked back by Hunter’s dismissal, although in the dying moments a neat piece of skill from new signing Scott Bibby saw him delicately chip narrowly too high and Holmes completely fluffed his lines when well-placed.

It all ended with Matlock recording their 11th league draw out of 24 league games played, having paid the penalty for a slow and cumbersome start.

For the latest Matlock Town news, see this week’s Matlock Mercury.