A second 2-0 win against Hednesford Town this season — and with the same scorers — kept Matlock Town in the EvoStik Northern Premier play-off hunt on a day when all their rivals for the final spot, except Warrington, won.
Niall McManus and Marcus Dinanga struck in the second half of a scrappy encounter and Matlock, who won comfortably away from home without hitting top form, could even afford to miss a penalty.
Jake Green, Andy Wright and Marc Newsham came in with Rhys Sharpe, Michael Williams and Cleveland Taylor being named substitutes as the Gladiators reshuffled their line-up after the 4-0 midweek defeat by Spennymoor.
They had the perfect chance to put that nightmare behind them when Ted Cribley cut in from the left and was fouled by Gavin Hurren to concede a fifth-minute penalty.
The usually reliable Dinanga, however, struck a tame shot that hit keeper Lloyd Ransome on his leg and was scrambled clear.
The Gladiators continued to hold the upper hand without looking particularly dangerous, Wright pulling a shot wide from the edge of the box on 14 minutes after a spell of pressure and Cribley’s shot blocked three minutes later.
The scrappy nature of the game was epitomised when a clearance from Dan Brenan hit Dinanga and bounced narrowly wide.
It was 27 minutes before the Pitmen threatened as Danny Glover’s shot was charged down, but it was the catalyst for a better spell from Hednesford with David McDermott looking their most likely threat.
He cut in from the left on 32 minutes but his shot sailed wide of the back post.
Then from a quickly-taken throw on the left McDermott tried his luck again from 20 yards only for this attempt to suffer the same fate as his first.
Adam Yates skied his volley over the bar when a free kick found its way to him before possibly the best chance from open play came the way of the hosts as Green did well to get in the way of a Glover shot that would have found the target just inside the post.
The first chance in the second period fell to Matlock with the hard-working Joe Doyle-Charles shooting directly at Ransome.
After Dwayne Wiley headed too high, McDermott again tested Matlock, firing over and placing a half chance wide.
But it was Matlock’s number seven who broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute.
Cribley did well to knock back a cross from the right into the danger area. McManus’s initial shot hit Newsham just in front of the line but then sat up for the Matlock winger to clip a well-controlled follow-up past Ransome.
A neat build-up led to Matlock confirming their victory with two minutes remaining as substitute Michael Williams and Cribley linked up to release another substitute, Rhus Sharpe, on the left. His pin-point cross was nodded home from close range by Dinanga for his 32nd goal of the season.
A McManus cross was cut out with Dinaga waiting to pounce and Williams saw a shot well saved as Matlock finished in control and still hanging on in the promotion race.
MATLOCK TOWN: Phil Marnes, Liam Marsden, Jake Green, Joe Doyle-Charles, Adam Yates, Dwayne Wiley, Niall McManus, Andy Wright (Michael Williams 57mins), Marc Newsham (Rhus Sharpe 69mins) Marcus Dinanga, Ted Cribley. Subs not used: Cleveland Taylor, Jamie Yates, Nico Degirolamo.