Bucks have final say as Matlock miss out

Buxton FC v Matlock,
Buxton FC v Matlock,
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Evo-Stik League Premier Division

Buxton 2

Mark Reed 41

Michael Towey 89

Matlock Town 1

Lewis McMahon 68

Matlock Town: Jon Kennedy, Adam Yates, Lee Featherstone, Gareth Davies, Laurence Gaughan, James Lukic, Chris Bettney (Ben Algar 56), Kris Bowler, Nathan Joynes, Lewis McMahon, Ian Holmes. Subs not used: Kris Witcombe, Liam King, Nick Buxton

Referee: A D Hutchinson – Great Sutton, Cheshire

Attendance: 386

Star man: Kris Bowler

Substitute Michael Towey’s 89th minute winner was a kick in the teeth on Monday for Matlock, whose much improved away performance deserved at least a share of the spoils.

Lewis McMahon’s 68th minute equaliser had earlier cancelled out Mark Reed’s 41st minute opener and after the equaliser it looked odds on that the Gladiators would achieve just their third away win in the league this season.

But with Matlock banging on the Buxton defensive door for the winner, a Town corner was swept upfield where Bradley Barraclough broke at pace. The Gladiators were suddenly caught short and Towey raced up in support to collect Barraclough’s pass, round Jon Kennedy and slide the winner low into the opposite corner.

The Bucks celebrated what some of their followers admitted was a lucky win, but the victory will probably prove to be priceless as they battle their way clear of the relegation zone.

Liam King had to be content with a place on the substiutes bench, still feeling the after-effects of his injury sustained in Saturday’s draw with Marine and Paul Riley missed out through illness. Chris Bettney and Ian Holmes were recalled to the starting line-up.

Persistent rain made for a heavy and drenched surface as Matlock kicked off up the Silverlands slope. Barraclough had a shot blocked after being found well by Neil Stevens before Matlock soon responded when the again splendid Kris Bowler’s fiercely struck low drive was pushed aside at full stretch by Scott Hartley.

From the corner Laurence Gaughan’s header was cleared. Steven Istead’s cross from a Bucks corner played short was met by a towering header from Reed. The hosts began to get the upper hand with Kennedy touching a Barraclough effort wide after the striker had been afforded a little too much room.

But Matlock had a chance when Nathan Joynes header was too high when McMahon crossed after a free kick had been played quickly to him. Then Gareth Davies cleverly beat Grant Black on the left but delayed his cross and a promising opening had gone.

Istead came close on 32 minutes when he cut inside and hammered a firm drive which flashed narrowly past Kennedy’s right hand post. Just when it seemed as if Matlock would reach the interval on level terms as Buxton had shaded the opening half, a lack of concentration proved to be costly.

Reed got in behind Lukic down the inside right channel to steer a calm finish past Kennedy who shortly afterwards pushed aside a strike from Stevens. The half ended with Holmes winning a corner after McMahon’s shot was blocked, the half-time whistle sounding before the flag kick could be taken.

Bowler was the driving force for the Gladiators, who dominated the second half. His fine cross from the left was met by the onrushing Adam Yates who volleyed a shade too high.

Then Holmes might have burst the net with a better connection from a similar Bowler centre, but he could only prod weakly at Hartley.

Joynes kicked thin air eight yards out from Gaughan’s knockdown before substitute Tommy Agus did well to clear a McMahon cross but McMahon pressurised Hartley, the clearance hit the Gladiator and rebounded into the net.

Fortuitous the goal might have been, but it was deserved and now the stage looked set for Matlock to collect all three points. With a little more composure in and around the Buxton box, that might have been achieved.

The Gladiators asked all the questions as Buxton defended stubbornly with even Reed back helping out to great effect.

Hartley atoned for his earlier mistake, standing up well to block superbly from Holmes as Joynes created the chance. The bandaged Gareth Davies, victim of an elbow missed by the referee, seemed to get better after the knock and he set free substitute Ben Algar, whose cross was headed clear brilliantly by Reed.

But then came the twist in the tail to deflate a Matlock side whose performance was probably their best away from home for a number of weeks.

It left them with little time to fashion a response as Buxton then kept them at arm’s length, and now with just one opportunity to improve on their win record of just two on the road, at Rushall on Saturday week.