Matlock and Warrington finished ninth and tenth respectively after the spoils were shared on the season’s final day.
A draw was the very least that the Gladiators deserved after dominating much of the contest but they had to fight back from an interval deficit to level through Curtis Morrison after Michael Bakore had put the Wire in front.
The visitors also had to play the entire second half with ten men after midfielder Mitchell Duggan was sent off for an over the top challenge on Michael Williams seconds before the half time whistle. Williams was unable to carry on and was replaced by Cleveland Taylor after the break.
In a slow start the first action of note was a booking for Marcus Dinanga in the 7th minute for a high boot on Warrington skipper James McCarten who was forced off with a facial wound and replaced by John Shaw. Williams then released Marc Newsham who was quickly closed down before in the 20th minute, Niall McManus cut in from the right before firing high and wide.
But against the run of the play three minutes later Warrington countered at speed with Matlock claiming handball as the visitors broke out of defence. Dylan Vassallo found the burly Michael Bakaro who cut inside Dwayne Wiley and although Phil Barnes kept out his initial strike, the ball rebounded kindly to BAKORE to fire home.
Matlock sought a response as Dinanga’s shot bounced across the face of the goal before the hosts were unlucky to have what appeared to be a 31st minute leveller chalked off. Newsham glanced a fine header beyond goalkeeper Anthony Macmillan but the assistant had his flag raised to confound most people, especially as the visitors had a man stationed close to the post seemingly keeping Newsham onside.
Vassallo floated a free kick too high before Duggan’s dismissal for a tackle which left cuts on Williams’ leg, but thankfully nothing worse. It was a leg breaker, but Williams declared afterwards that he should be fit for the Derbyshire Senior Cup Final on May 2.
Taylor immediately showed he meant business with a fine low twenty five yarder which Macmillan did well to keep out. Then Newsham drove wide after being found by Ted Cribley before Dinanga lifted his shot over the bar following excellent play by McManus.
In a rare break by the visitors the dangerous Bakore forced a good save from Barnes before two quick substitutions saw Matlock go three at the back as they sought the equaliser.
It came on 65 minutes when Wiley leapt like the proverbial salmon to power in a header which MORRISON guided into the net from point blank range.
Now the question was could Matlock go on and win it especially as probably the game’s best striker Bakore had been withdrawn by Warrington.
Dinanga could have won it when following a well worked free kick he shot over the bar when well placed. Morrison had a shot deflecteed wide in stoppage time before in the dying seconds both Wiley and Danny Ventre were yellow carded after a handbags session on the half way line.Also going into a below par referee’s notebook were Matlock’s Joe Doyle-Charles and the visitors Shaw and Scott Bakkor.
Doyle-Charles put in a typical battling midfield performance against a physical Warrington side who held on stubbornly to deny Matlock the win their performance deserved.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Liam Marsden 3 Jake Green (12 Rhys Sharpe 60) 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Niall McManus 8 Michael Williams (14 Cleveland Taylor 46) 9 Marc Newsham (16 Curtis Morrison 56) 10 Marcus Dinanga 11 Ted Cribley Other subs: 15 Andy wright 17 Nico De Girolamo
WARRINGTON TOWN: 1 Anthony Macmillan 2 Adam Carden 3 Josh Askew 4 Danny Ventre 5 James McCarten (17 Jon Shaw 7) 6 Evan Gumbs 7 Dylan Vassallo 8 Mitchell Duggan 9 Michael Bakore (12 Michael Monaghan 62) 10 Scott Bakkor 11 Lewis Codling Other subs: 14 Billy Smart 15 Andrew Lewis
REFEREE: Greg Rollason (West Midlands).
BEST GLADIATOR: Joe Doyle-Charles.