Matlock’s disappointing defeat at struggling Stocksbridge was largely self inflicted.
They gifted the hosts their opening two goals and in spite of completely dominating the first two thirds of the contest, they only had a well taken Lavell White goal to show for their constant pressure.
Good chances went begging and Steels collected a much needed win in their battle to avoid relegation.
A miserable few days for Matlock was compounded by the 73rd minute dismissal of top scorer Danny Holland following an altercation with home defender Matt Telling who inexplicably escaped with just a booking.
Four former Gladiators were in the Steels starting line up, with two of them, James Knowles and Nathan Joynes being on the scoresheet. The other two were Matt Hamshaw and Chris Bettney.
Matlock, with a strong wind behind them made a terrible start, conceding inside forty seconds as KNOWLES strolled through from midfield unchallenged and with Town’s defenders retreating, he stroked a low shot past Jonathan Hedge.
After that it was all Matlock in a tidal wave of pressure on the home goal. Steels goalkeeper Jack Ward blocked a Holland shot on 8 minutes but five minutes later Holland missed a golden opportunity to equalise. Free at the back post with only Ward to beat, Holland somehow dragged his close range shot wide.
Ward then did well to keep out efforts from White and acrobatically from Shaun Tuton following fine flowing moves but the leveller which had been long coming arrived on the half hour.
It was another slick passing move by the Gladiators who were outplaying their hosts and it ended with a smart shot from WHITE which comprehensively beat Ward.
Matlock needed a quick second but Stocksbridge held on and were again on the receiving end of Matlock pressure in the opening stages of the second half.
White lifted a good opportunity over the bar as Matlock’s inability to finish was again raising its ugly head.
The Gladiators had lost David Haggerty to illness during the interval and it all started to go spectacularly wrong for them when JOYNES regained the lead for the Yorkshiremen with a goal against the run of the play on 61 minutes.
This was another soft goal as Matlock failed to deal with a throw from the left, the ball dropping to Joynes to slot a low drive past Hedge.
Within three minutes Stocksbridge added a third from the penalty spot. Oscar Radford was ruled to have fouled Danny South. It looked dubious and generous but after the protests had died down, SOUTH easily scored from twelve yards to leave Matlock staring defeat in the face.
Holland’s red card put the seal on an avoidable defeat as he reacted after being kicked from behind.
Matlock then never looked like finding even a consolation as errors at both ends had handed the strugglers the points on a plate.
Matlock: Hedge; Harcourt, Leesley, Foster, Haggerty (Featherstone 46), Radford, Needham, Ashmore (Thomas 66), Holland, Tuton, White (Grayson 79). Subs not used: Kennedy.
Referee: D Street (West Yorkshire).
Best Gladiator: Lavell White.