Matlock Town hit the summit of the BetVictor NPL Premier Division table for 24 hours at least after a 1-0 victory at highly fancied Basford on Monday night.
Substitute Piteu Crouz stole the headlines with a delicious free kick from 22 yards on the left which flew past the despairing hand of home goalkeeper Kieran Preston to nestle in the far top corner of the net.
The Gladiators then had five more minutes plus any time added on by the referee to survive and they did it relatively comfortably. Another substitute Nathan Whitehead was within a coat of paint of doubling the lead when his shot was deflected on to a post and out for a corner.
In an even start, Marcus Marshall’s pass to Andrew Wright was a touch too strong for Matlock to force a shot at Preston, Basford replying with a James Reid free kick which flew a couple of feet over the bar.
Courey Grantham shot tamely at Stewart when well placed in the 13th minute but Matlock were generally coping comfortably with the questions Basford were asking.
Matlock broke to force two successive corners through fine work by Bramall and then Wright and this was soon followed by a solo Marshall run in which he ghosted past two defenders in the penalty box only for Preston to make a timely interception.
Stewart came into his own tipping away a Reid free kick, the loose ball being played to the far post just beyond a stretching Richards.
The giant Gladiators captain pulled off another good save from Grantham at his near post as the interval approached, when Basford were at their most dangerous.
The hosts had moved up a gear and Stewart got more deserved applause after another diving stop from Reid.
Matlock engineered the first opportunity after the interval, Dwayne Wiley’s spectacular strike being deflected wide and from the well worked flag kick on the right, Dean cleared the bar from the edge of the box.
Williamson’s header back towards Stewart forced Matlock hearts to flutter for a moment before the visitors scrambled the ball clear but that was virtually their last worry of the contest.
Wright found the side netting from a tight angle as Matlock grew increasingly confident and dangerous.
But Matlock’s bravery, desire and positivity was rewarded by Crouz’ magical strike, the nearest a frustrated Basford came to saving themselves was a Galinski header which was well off target.
Matlock had defied the odds, played with passion and were deservedly clapped off by the travelling fans who had boosted the Basford attendance to 501.
BASFORD UNITED: 1 Kieran Preston 2 Liam Bateman 3 Dominic Roma (16 Zak Goodson 86) 4 Matt Thornhill 5 Brad Gascoigne 6 Stefan Galinski 7 Kane Richards 8 Callum Chettle 9 Courey Grantham(15 Nat Watson 61) 10 James Reid (14 Jack Thomas 72) 11 Jamie Walker Subs not used: 12 Lewis Carr 17 John Carvell
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Stewart 2 Jordon Cooke 3 Ben Gordon 4 Luke Dean 5 James Williamson 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Scott Smith 8 Jack Rea 9 Marcus Marshall (12 Luke Hinsley 75) 10 Andrew Wright (14 Nathan Whitehead 75) 11 Dan Bramall (15 Piteu Crouz 70) Other subs: 16 James Tague 17 Ben Morris
REFEREE: Reece Davies (Ilkeston).
BEST GLADIATOR: Luke Dean.