A late try meant heartache for Matlock in the Midlands Intermediate Cup, quarter-finals as they lost by one point, 23-22, away to Leek.
Matlock built a lead of 22-9 with only 15 minutes to go but, unfortunately and erroneously, they thought the tie was won.
The slide started when a brace of missed tackles in the middle of the park allowed Leek to get a converted try on the board and cut the deficit to 22-16.
That left it all to play for, and the home side, smelling blood, began to pepper the Matlock defence, which resulted in a second converted try and what proved to be the winning points.
On paper, the two sides looked evenly matched, with both going well in their respective divisions. But even though they were without formiable centre Danu Hooton and also the injured Andrew Stock, Matlock were up for the challenge.
A strong opening eight minutes resulted in serious pressure, only for two penalties to be conceded, the second of which gave Leek a 3-0 lead.
Matlock talisman Tim Taylor had a stern word with his team and they were soon firing on all cylinders again, dominating the next 20 minutes of the tie.
Powerful runs from the influential Tom Cruttenden and Chris Atkinson lifted the momentum, and the visitors finally got on the scoresheet with a penalty that Tom Fairclough slotted.
Matlock were hit by another injury when Tom Morton sustained a suspected break in his foot, but it couldn’t prevent them surging into a 10-3 by the half-time interval as his stand-in at number nine, Jim Young, saw a gap and fed Atkinson, who raced past an opponent and scored under the posts, with the conversion added soon afterwards.
The second half started like the first for Matlock with some terrific attacking play that soon led to another try. This time, Dave Hartley found an opening, drew his man and popped the ball out the back door to Luke Howard, who passed on to Billy Wizz to speed clear for the score.
Curtis Bolam missed the extras, and Matlock’s lead of 15-3 was eaten into by a couple of soft penalties that allowed Leek to creep back into contention.
However, the visitors continued to call the tune and another tremendous, rampaging run from the forwards allowed Cruttenden to break through and pop the ball to captain Simon Wright, who touched down under the sticks.
When the conversion was added, the game looked all over. But never-say-die Leek had other ideas.
This Saturday, Matlock return to National League, Midlands 2 East (North) action when they host Newark.