The Gladiators’ inconsistent season continued on Tuesday night when two second half goals saw them slip to defeat to Hednesford Town at Keys Park.
Edjidja Mbunga was on hand to finish off two set pieces to send Matlock Town home empty-handed and ensure Hednesford jumped above them in the Evo-Stik Premier table.
Matlock had edged a tight first half but after the interval were on the back foot as the Pitmen took the initiative; the Gladiators only threatening when they were two goals down and the game had slid away from them.
Shaun Harrad was not risked but Matlock still made one change to the starting line up which began the rout against Sutton Coldfield at the weekend. Adam Etches, who had impressed and scored as a substitute, was given a start as Tyrell Waite had to be content with a place on the bench.
Hednesford came into the clash on the back of an impressive 2-1 victory at Ashton United but did not look like building on that result in the opening exchanges.
Matlock mounted early pressure with Etches in full flow, Dwayne Wiley had an effort hacked clear, Luis Rose pulled a shot just wide and both Ted Cribley and Joe Doyle-Charles hit off target.
Cribley though might have given Matlock a 24th minute lead when home goalkeeper James Wren misjudged a Rose cross and Cribley poked his shot agonisingly wide from only a couple of yards.
Hednesford responded as Mbunga fired goalwards but Phil Barnes was on hand to keep the shot out.
But Mbunga was smiling six minutes after the interval when a giant throw from Bailey was helped on by Danny Glover to fall sweetly for him to slam his shot into the roof of the net.
The goal galvanised Hednesford and another long throw caused Matlock problems on the hour. Barnes on hand to deny Bailey. Cribley had an effort blocked at the other end.
It was a decent chance and one Matlock would rue not taking for they fell further behind. Mutton headed down a right wing corner and Mbunga turned the ball in from point blank range in the ensuing scramble.
Waite came close to halving the deficit when his shot hit the post, Cribley saw his effort punched clear and sub Rhys Sharp slcied over the bar when through on goal.
That effort summed up a second half from Matlock which lacked both composure and quality.
MATLOCK TOWN: Barnes, Degirolamo, Green (Whitehead 72), Doyle-Charles, Yates, Wiley, Rose, Williams, Blake (Sharpe 55), Etches (Waite 55), Cribley. Sub not used: Flint.
REFEREE: Richard Eley (Derby). ATTENDANCE: 333. BEST GLADIATOR: Adam Yates.