Gladiators match report: Buxton 1 Matlock Town 0

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Matlock suffered a pointless and scoreless Easter following a lacklustre showing in Easter Monday’s derby at the Silverlands.

It was fitting that it took a sloppy goal to settle a scrappy affair, netted by bucks defender Marc Roberts who turned out to be the game’s most potent attacking weapon.

Roberts took full advantage of a misjudgement from Town goalkeeper Jon Kennedy to outjump him from a 19th minute free kick and loop in his header.

Worrying for the visitors was they never looked like saving themselves. Despite some good possession in midfield they lacked penetration in the final third and more disappointingly the desire to pick up the pieces in 50/50 duels, most of which went the Bucks way.

Matlock boss Mark Atkins made two changes from the line up beaten at AFC Fylde. Skipper James Lukic returned but at the expense of key defender Adam Yates who had suffered a recurrence of his hip injury at the weekend. Joe Leesley also came in to add strength to the attack in place of Lavelle White.

In ice cold conditions with snow heaped at the side of the pitch, the game got off to a shapeless start, although it was that man Roberts who came close to giving Buxton a 5th minute lead. But the hard working Martin Foster was ideally placed to hack clear Roberts’ power packed header as he connected with a corner from the left.

But Roberts was celebrating fourteen minutes later and was soon in the thick of the action again when Micky Harcourt cleared another header off the line.

Matlock looked the better passing side but with Buxton closing them down quickly, all too many moves came to an abrupt end in and around the home penalty box.

Ben Algar found room on the left only to overhit his centre before on 32 minutes, Harcourt met a free kick from the right but his header dropped harmlessly over the bar.

That first free kick had seen Steven Istead booked for fouling Foster and soon afterwards Ashley Palmer joined him for pulling back an unusually quiet Massiah McDonald. Lee Featherstone finished the bookings tally after the break for pulling back Neil Stevens.

From Palmer’s misdemeanour, Leesley wasted the free kick which fell to James Ashmore whose shot was charged down.

McDonald also saw a shot on the run blocked to end a disjointed opening half and sadly there was little improvement after the interval.

Kennedy held a Grant Black free kick as Buxton went in search of a second goal. Roberts again headed goalwards but too high.

The Bucks brought on record scorer Mark Reed as part of a double substitution which saw former Gladiator Lee Morris withdrawn and within a minute he nearly struck gold but Laurence Gaughan managed to deflect Reed’s shot wide. Harcourt cleared another Roberts header and in a swift breakaway, Istead ran clear to come face to face with Kennedy only to balloon his shot high over the bar.

Matlock were outmuscled by a resolute Bucks defence and could not offer anything in reply as they slid to defeat.

True, it was a bad mistake by Kennedy for the winner but the Gladiators needed to show more resolve and ingenuity to force their way back into the match. On the day it was sadly missing.

BUXTON: Deakin, Black, Green, Istead, Palmer, Roberts, Stevens, Towey (Reed 66), Morris (Lugsden 66), Maxfield, Duncum (Thornhill 74). Other subs: Haggerty, Muller.

MATLOCK: Kennedy, Harcourt, Featherstone, Foster, Gaughan, Lukic, Algar, Ashmore, McDonald, Davies (White 63), Leesley (Gouveia 74). Other subs: Dennis, Travis, Buxton.

REFEREE: D Plowright (Clipstone).

ATTENDANCE: 346.

STAR GLADIATOR: Martin Foster.