An eight-goal thriller, but a 5-3 defeat, at Evo-Stik Northern Premier League play-off rivals Stourbridge brought a bad week to an end for 10-man Matlock Town.
The Gladiators, who drew at home last Saturday and were then beaten in midweek at Frickley, gave it their all, however, and on another day might have come home with a point.
They went to-to-toe with the hosts in a remarkable game that saw seven goals in the first half.
The contest got off to an explosive start as a 30-yard rocket from home full back Darryl Westlake thundered into the top corner in the third minute.
Within three minutes Marc Newsham, who replaced Curtis Morrison in the visitors’ starting 11, equalised with a header from Jake Green’s cross from the left.
But in the 10th minute the Glassboys went back in front. Adam Yates was harshly penalised for a foul 35 yards and Luke Benbow rifled the free kick directly into the same top corner as Westlake as keeper Phil Barnes was again given no chance.
Stourbridge made it 3-1 from another free kick on 16 minutes, which was not effectively dealt with by the visitors. Jordan Archer found room in the box to fire home a rising drive.
Matlock needed to steady the ship and a shot from Niall McManus was comfortably wide before Stourbridge recovered sufficiently to deny Marcus Dinanga at the expense of a fruitless 20th minute corner.
However, Dinanga was on target three minutes when he slipped beyond a static home defence to fire under Matt Gould and reduce the arrears.
But in the 27th minute Stourbridge restored their two-goal cushion when the visitors again failed to clear a free kick and Ethan Jones fired low into the corner from the edge of the box.
Another McManus shot was deflected wide for the Gladiators before Dinanga was brought down by Gould to concede a penalty.
The keeper was booked, but Matlock argued it should have been red.
Dinanga comfortably stroked in the spot-kick for his 30th goal of the campaign.
Barnes bundled away a Leon Broadhurst free kick at the end of a breathless first period.
It was asking a lot for the second half to match the opening 45 minutes.
Benbow had a shot deflected wide in the opening couple of minutes before Matlock had a spell of almost sustained pressure for 20 minutes without extending Gould.
A dangerous Ted Cribley cross flashed across the area as Stourbridge conceded a corner.
McManus was becoming increasingly frustrated with the referee’s decisions and he was booked for dissent on 64 minutes before receiving his second yellow 12 minutes later for a repeat offence.
Stourbridge’s match-clinching goal on 72 minutes probably contributed to his dismissal as McManus was fouled in the Stourbridge half, and there appeared to be two further fouls on Matlock players, in the build-up.
Home skipper Tom Tonks headed Benbow’s cross from the left firmly past Barnes to complete the scoring.
Matlock did not play badly, but they need to rediscover their winning form quickly if they are to make the play-offs.
MATLOCK TOWN: Phil Barnes, Liam Marsden, Jake Green, Joe Doyle-Charles, Adam Yates, Dwayne Wiley, Niall McManus, Michael Williams (Andy Wright 82mins), Marc Newsham (Curtis Morison 76mins), Marcus Dinanga, Ted Cribley. Subs not used: Paul Ennis, Nico Degirolamo.
BEST GLADIATOR: Marcus Dinanga.