Honours even after Morris leveller

Action from the Boxing Day fixture between Matlock Town and Buxton at the Reynolds Stadium.
Action from the Boxing Day fixture between Matlock Town and Buxton at the Reynolds Stadium.

Matlock Town 1,

Buxton 1

Honours finished even in the big Derbyshire Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division derby at the Reynolds Stadium on Boxing Day, but the 693 fans who turned out left feeling short changed by Sheffield referee David Benton’s performance.

Mr Benton took centre stage, sending off Matlock’s Ben Hunter in the 84th minute for a second bookable offence and booking Lee Morris.

Buxton had their record goalscorer Mark Reed and James Baxendale booked before half-time and after the interval.

Grant Black joined them before Kieran Lugsden saw red for a late lunge on Hunter and Bucks manager Scott Maxfield was sent to the stands, apparently for kicking over a water bottle.

Josh Wilde also went in the book for dissent.

The odd decision was warranted, but some were a total over reaction, the players should have been allowed to make the headlines!

Matlock felt particularly aggrieved when Mr Benton disallowed an Ian Holmes header just 70 seconds after substitute Lee Morris had cancelled out Bradley Barraclough’s third minute opener.

Ian Holmes appeared to make no contact with Bucks custodian Scott Hartley as he headed Jon Kennedy’s massive clearance over the advancing goalkeeper in the 61st minute.

That turned out to be a match defining decision as Mr Benton awarded the Bucks a free kick.

But these decisions cannot hide a mixed Matlock performance in which they were second best in the first-half before a half-time talking to from boss Mark Atkins livened them up after the break.

Matlock were immediately on the back foot thanks to a bright Buxton start.

Their record scorer, Mark Reed was searching for his 200th goal in Bucks colours, but the lively Bradley Barraclough, on loan from Lincoln City, put them ahead, when from their third corner the ball ricocheted around in the home danger area and hit the striker on its way into the net.

Matlock goalkeeper Jon Kennedy was left helpless.

Atkins told his team a few home truths while they sipped their half-time tea and it brought about an improved showing.

Steve Warne’s cross from the left was headed out for a corner by Sam Liversedge who had replaced Curtley Williams at half-time. Then Hartley gathered a free kick from Morris before in a matter of seconds Maxfield went to the stands and Lugsden to the shower.

And it looked as if Buxton’s world was falling apart when on 59 minutes, Hunter weaved his path in from the left to cross low for Morris to force home from point blank range.

Morris deserved his goal for he showed tenacity and strength as he led the Matlock attack well after replacing the injured Chris Bettney in the 29th minute.

It all ended with Matlock recording their 11th league draw out of 24 league games played, having paid the penalty for a slow and cumbersome start.

Matlock: Kennedy, Harcourt, Hunter, King, Yates, Radford, Bettney (Morris 29), Warne, Davidson (Bibby 84), Holmes, Davies. Subs not used: Whittington, Sollitt.

Attendance: 693.

Matlock’s next game will be at Mickleover on Monday afternoon.