A cold Baltic night at the Autoworld Arena threw up some rarities as Matlock, in the end, moved smoothly into the quarter finals of the Derbyshire Senior Cup with a 2-0 win over Burton.
Three immediately spring to mind. A home win against the Bucks, their first in seven attempts since a 3-0 win in 2007/08, progress beyond their first match in a cup competition this season, and scoring more than once in a competitive match for the first time in nine outings since a 3-0 home victory over Frickley on October 28.
In the end it was a comfortable enough win against the high-flying Bucks who left both of their leading scorers, Liam Hardy and former Matlock striker Shaun Tuton, on the bench.
But they still had record scorer Mark Reed leading their attack alongside youngster Alex Stacey, while another up and coming prospect, full-back Shomari Doyle was also included.
Both of the young Bucks could and probably should have found the target as Buxton dominated the opening exchanges.
Matlock had been pushed back in a nervous start as Doyle picked up a crossfield pass from Laurie Wilson forcing Jon Kennedy to parry his forceful strike. Stacey beat the offside trap on nine minutes only to lift his finish over the bar with just Kennedy to beat after seemingly doing all of the hard work.
In between Wilson’s low drive hit the outside of the net as it flashed fractionally wide of the post.
Craig King was orchestrating a lot of attacks down the left, but gradually a Matlock youngster in Ellis Humble settled down to eventually reduce King’s threat and, on 16 minutes, Matlock finally managed their first shot as a Gregory effort was deflected wide.
Town joint boss Dave Rushbury was impressed by Buxton’s opening, but was equally pleased with Matlock’s response and eventual comfort towards the end.
The Gregory chance acted as a catalyst for Matlock’s response. Charlie Dawes, in a more withdrawn role behind the front two, pulled a shot wide after a probing run and a Phil Roe’s 25 yarder struck Greg Young to produce a corner which saw Humble’s power packed header flash narrowly wide.
Then another Dawes run ended with a fabulous strike, which shook the bar with goalkeeper David Reay well beaten. Another Dawes effort was wide after good approach play from skipper Danny Holland.
As the second half got going Gregory passed rather than shooting when well placed, the move coming to nothing.
But he broke the deadlock on 55 minutes when his low shot deceived Reay and somehow ended in the back of the Bucks net.
It was far from a classic strike, but nevertheless a confidence boosting one for Gregory personally and the Gladiators.
Buxton could and probably should have been down to 10 men when Wilson fouled Joe Leesley twice in the space of four minutes.
He was booked, somewhat harshly for his first offence, but the second misdemeanour looked eminently worse.
Referee Danny Middleton called over skipper Derek Niven, lectured Wilson in front of Niven and allowed him to stay on.
Bucks boss Martin McIntosh had seen enough, Neil Stevens being sent on in an instant.
In between Wilson’s two fouls Reed missed Buxton’s one glorious opportunity of the second period, nodding a King cross wide from close range.
Gregory did well to pull down a free-kick 12 yards out to fire a yard too high, but sealed the win with 12 minutes remaining.
Reay and Young got in an untidy and embarrassing tangle leaving the way free for the Town striker to force in an easy second.
Almost immediately Reay partly atoned for his part in the lead doubling strike by superbly tipping Holland’s header over the bar, before substitute Andre Johnson wasted a gilt edged chance of his first Matlock goal.
Clear of the Bucks defence he shot weakly at Reay when he had time plenty of time to pick his spot!
Kennedy denied substitute Alex Airy late on to preserve a clean sheet and ensure a Matlock win in the first of three meetings between the A6 rivals this term.
Speaking after the game Matlock boss Dave Rushbury said: “Buxton are a well drilled good side who play with a high intensity, that upsets teams and the game was how it was early on because we didn’t work as hard as they did.
“But we stayed in the game, didn’t concede and instead of playing too much football in our own half. We later then started playing in their half after a half time chat, the game changed, we got the goals and should have won by more.”
MATLOCK TOWN: Jon Kennedy, Phil Roe (Andre Johnson 81mins), Joe Leesley, Micky Harcourt, Ellis Humble, Oscar Radford, Charlie Dawes (Caine Winfarrah 61 mins), James Ashmore, Danny Holland, Corey Gregory, Niall McManus. Subs not used: Lawrence Gorman, Martin Foster, Josh Meade.
BUXTON: David Reay, Shomari Doyle, Jamie Green, Derek Niven, Ash Palmer, Greg Young, Jonathan Williams, Laurie Wilson (Neil Stevens 73 mins), Mark Reed (Alex Airy 76mins), Alex Stacey, Craig King. Subs not used: Shaun Tuton, Liam Hardy, Aaron Jameson.
REFEREE: Danny Middleton (Heanor).