Matlock Town produced a fantastic comeback with three goals in the last 17 minutes to pull off a dramatic 3-2 derby victory at Buxton last night.
After a scoreless opening period, Alistair Taylor on 59 minutes and Danny Amoson 70 minutes put Buxton in a seemingly invincible position. However, Ricky German halved the deficit three minutes later before first goals in Matlock colours for Kieran Wallace on 79 minutes and Joe Doyle-Charles as the contest entered stoppage time gave Matlock their deserved win.
It was just reward for a performance that was certainly pleasing on the eye as the Gladiators passed the Bucks to death.
Thoughts of deja vu were in the minds of visiting fans before that late three goal burst.
But even at two goals down, the visitors stuck to their principles of intelligent ball retention and movement and had the hosts could not find a response.
Matlock’s willingness to work and pressurise high up the pitch paid dividends as Buxton had to resort to the long ball in an attempt to upset the Gladiators’ rhythm.
A day earlier the Silverlands surface was blanketed in four inches of snow. It had recovered remarkably well for the hasty rearrangement after Easter Monday’s postponement.
Buxton, attacking down the slope, had a half chance when League’s top scorer Liam Hardy volleyed yards over the bar.
In fact Matlock did well in keeping Hardy and Ant Wilson, who had bullied them in the Boxing Day draw at The DCJ Group Arena, relatively quiet.
Home goalkeeper Jan Budtz was well placed to hold a free kick from Wallace and a 20-yarder from Michael Williams before Matlock worked their way into a promising position as Harry Limb was in behind the Bucks rearguard on the right for his low cross to be cut out at the expense of a corner.
The tale of the opening half was Matlock often finding themselves in similar threatening situations only for the move to end due to a faulty final pass.
Richard Walton was then in the right place to keep out a shot from Luke Hinsley before the Bucks were fortunate to have all 11 players still on the field when Wilson was booked for a late elbow on Dwayne Wiley in the 27th minute.
Ricky Ravenhill drove harmlessly wide before, at the other end, Limb lost composure with a wild cross after streaking clear from the right.
Brad Grayson replaced Wilson at the break but Matlock continued to look the more accomplished side and Limb might have done better than slice carelessly wide from 10 yards in the 52nd minute after excellent work from German.
But out of the blue Town found themselves behind seven minutes later, Hardy flicking the ball into Taylor who drove forward to place a neat finish past Walton.
Both German and Doyle-Charles had shots charged down in quick succession, the second at the expense of a corner which was scrambled off the line.
Jamie Jackson replaced Limb, but within two minutes the game looked over for Matlock.
They surrendered possession a touch too easily, Joe McGee setting up Amos, who showed the composure of a seasoned striker to sidestep a defender and Walton to fire in Buxton’s second goal.
The scoreline was harsh on Matlock, but to their credit they would not lie down.
A fine individual goal from German gave them hope when he robbed Amos and beat Greg Young neatly before slotting a calm finish past Budtz.
The Gladiators were well and truly back in contention now as the Bucks retreated and six minutes later Jackson cut in from the right for his cross to deflect off a defender on to the bar and Wallace finished from close range.
The home supporters tried in vain to lift their team, but Matlock had their tails up.
They defended with authority and persisted with their passing game.
Ted Cribley created the winner, feeding Doyle-Charles, who shot low under Budtz to cue mass celebration in the Gladiators’ ranks.
They saw the contest out without alarm to cap their best performance of what has been a troublesome campaign.
Buxton would no doubt be kicking themselves having gained a two goal lead, but could have few complaints with the outcome as the better side won on the night.
BUXTON: 1 Jan Budtz 2 Nico De Girolamo 3 Danny Amos 4 Joe Maguire 5 Greg Young 6 Ricky Ravenhill 7 Luke Hinsley (14 Andy McWilliams 68) 8 Joe McGee (17 Niall Doran 74) 9 Ant Wilson (16 Bradley Grayson 46) 10 Liam Hardy 11 Alastair Taylor. Subs not used: 12 Josh Meade 15 Jack Broadhead.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Richard Walton 2 Jake Green 3 Jan Yeomans 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Kieran Wallace 8 Michael Williams 9 Ricky German 10 Ted Cribley (16 Harry Wood 90) 11 Harry Limb (17 Jamie Jackson 68) Subs not used: 12 Jake Phillips 14 Marshall Willock 15 Zak Brunt.
REFEREE: Lewis Smith (Wigan).
BEST BUCK: Alistair Taylor.
BEST GLADIATOR: Joe Doyle-Charles.