Matlock joint boss Glenn Kirkwood praised his side’s “unbelievable character” after a late fightback saw them net two stoppage time goals to earn a 3-3 Boxing Day derby draw against Buxton.
The game was the second of four successive festive period matches against potential title winners or play-off candidates, with the run getting under way with a 3-0 loss at table topping Altrincham on Saturday.
Now comes a home meeting with Warrington Town on Saturday before a New Years Day trip to Grantham.
Said Kirkwood: “For the first 20 minutes Buxton got the better of us, they were more aggressive and the two goals they got knocked the stuffing out of us, in particular the second goal which was an unbelievable strike from Liam Hardy.
“But in the second half we started to get the ball down and started to play, everyone knew that the next goal could be game changing, we got it.”
The events in the lead up to Shaun Harrad scoring from the spot were not pretty with Michael Williams being booted by Bucks goalkeeper Jan Budtz who was sent off along with Williams who, it is alleged, was spat upon by Ant Wilson.
Kirkwood said he could understand Williams’ reaction to the alleged spitting.
“Willo was spat at in the face, it’s disgusting, it’s vile, it’s a natural human reaction to react to it, especially after the goalkeeper had stamped on his back,” he said.
“The goalkeeper’s actions have killed Buxton and given us a massive lifeline. When Buxton went 3-1 up it knocked the stuffing out of me and Hoppo (Craig Hopkins) but there was still plenty of time left and our players showed unbelievable character.
“They stuck at it and more than deserved a share of the spoils. Our fans were absolutely brilliant, they got behind us and I’m sure every one of them has gone home happy knowing the lads have put a good shift in.
“Our lads know we have a great crowd here who will back them to the hilt and they were magnificent.
“Being 3-1 down at the 90 minute mark and getting a draw is a brilliant feeling, there was only one side trying to play football and it was good to react like that in front of a big crowd.”
Kirkwood reckons the Altrincham defeat came about partly because of their two and a half weeks of inactivity beforehand.
“You can’t beat playing as it’s difficult to replicate match situations constantly in training sessions,” he added. “Altrincham are a very, very good side, they keep the ball well, move it well, everyone knows their jobs.
“We did well for an hour but then ran out of steam, we’re not the first team to go there and have three put past them.”
The Warrington and Grantham games are “massive” according to Kirkwood, particularly as there are a number of players carrying knocks after the Buxton clash.
“We know we’re a little light but it’s not through the want of trying,” he said. “We’re working hard to bring lads in, we have seven day notices in on a couple of players.
“Once the festive period’s over, a lot of teams will be looking to offload players so hopefully we’ll be able to bring one or two in.”
There was a minute’s silence ahead of the Buxton game following the death of club stalwart Alan Alesbrook last Friday.
“Alan was Matlock Town through and through and was highly thought of at the club,” said a Matlock spokesman.
“He was one of our kit men and was a member of our ground maintenance team putting in hour after hour doing jobs at the ground.
“He was a lifelong and valued supporter of the club and news of his death came as a big shock to us all.
“Everyone at the club, officials, management and players will miss him as will fellow supporters and our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”