Sloppy defending proves costly as Matlock Town are beaten by Bamber Bridge
A combination of some below par defending and some equally inept refereeing decisions led to Matlock's 4-2 defeat by a Bamber Bridge side battling to avoid the drop.
Matlock had twice fought back to level the scores and looked as if they would secure a point but they conceded the third goal only three minutes after they had levelled and it proved to be the pivotal moment.
Now Bamber Bridge have a great chance of surviving in the division.
Matlock's place in the top tier had been secured eleven days previously, and they gave a much more committed showing at a red hot Irongate than they had offered against Witton Albion seven days earlier. The visitors were without injured goalkeeper Ross Durrant and midfielder Michael Williams and with Cleveland Taylor on the substitutes bench, in came Jordan Pierrepont, Jordan Chapell and Nathan Whitehead from the Witton defeat.
Matlock cannot keep clean sheets and to concede a cheap opener inside the first five minutes gave the hosts just the lift they were looking for as Callum Chettle failed to get a telling challenge in from a left wing centre and SCOTT HARRIES shot past an unprotected Pierrepont.
The Gladiators fought back for Craig Westcarr to fire high over the bar when well placed before out of the blue CHAPELL scored his first competitive goal when after a brief good spell of pressure, his shot from twenty yards left Brig custodian Lloyd Rigby flat footed, the ball finding the bottom corner for the 20th minute equaliser.
Referee Croft was showing inconsistency and errors in his decision making with the hosts getting a lot of the 50-50 decisions and one such mistake started off the move which led to a second Bamber Bridge goal on the half hour. Marcus Marshall showed commendable strength as he challenged Kieran Charnock for a high ball , his physicality seemingly winning the battle but Croft whistled for a free kick which was taken quickly. Matlock could have done more to cut out the danger before Pierrepont fumbled Regan Linney's shot and MATTHEW DUDLEY slotted home the loose ball.
Linney was clear again shortly before the interval with Pierrepont this time narrowing the angle to block the strike to keep Matlock very much in contention. Shots from Michael Hollingsworth, Nathan Whitehead and Chapell plus an Adam Yates header were all off target.
Chettle was replaced by Nyle Blake for the second half as Matlock went from their 4-4-2 of the opening half to 4-4-3. Almost immediately Marshall's shot was deflected wide after initially Blake could not bring the ball down before Marshall broke on the left for his low cross to elude the onrushing Blake.
Rigby dived to his left to keep out a twenty yarder from Marshall bound for the bottom corner so when Matlock's 59th minute equaliser arrived, nobody could dispute it was not deserved.
Matlock broke at pace down the right through Blake whose inch perfect low centre was forced into the roof of the net by WESTCARR from a couple of yards out.
Now thoughts were set on Matlock winning but those hopes took a severe blow when ALASTAIR WADDECARR drove forward and nobody in a grey shirt closed him down allowing him a twenty five yarder which Pierrepont got a hand to but could not keep out.
A thirty yarder from Nathan Forbes flashed narrowly wide as Matlock again stood off a Brig attacker but the Gladiators rallied in the closing stages to pin the Preston side back.
The closest they came though was when substitute Nathan Morley's centre flashed across the six yard box with nobody on hand to convert.
Brig confirmed their win in added time.Full back Adam Dodd, after a long run from deep was alleged to have been brought down in the box, again it looked a generous decision in favour of the hosts and WADDECARR slotted the spot kick home to give Bamber Bridge a flattering win.
BAMBER BRIDGE: 1 Lloyd Rigby 2 Chris Churchman 3 Adam Dodd 4 Matt Lawlor 5 Kieran Charnock 6 Danny Forbes 7 Regan Linney 8 Joe Booth 9 Alastair Waddecarr 10 Matthew Dudley (17 Owen Watkinson 72) 11 Scott Harries (15 Dominic McGivern 90) Other subs: 12 Phil Doughty 14 Mark Buchan 16 Ben Thomas
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jordan Pierrepont 2 Lee Beevers 3 Greg Tempest 4 Michael Hollingsworth 5 Dwayne Wiley 6 Adam Yates 7 Callum Chettle (15 Nyle Blake 46) 9 Craig Westcarr 10 Marcus Marshall 11 Jordan Chapell (14 Nathan Morley 82) Other subs: 12 Cleveland Taylor 16 Brad Beatson 17 Terry Fleming
REFEREE: D Croft (Birkenhead) ATTENDANCE: 396 BEST GLADIATOR: Jordan Chapell