Matlock welcomed top-of-the-table Eckington to Causeway Lane on Saturday and earned themselves a losing draw.
Matlock started well as captain Kevin Leatherday won the toss and decided to bowl on a pitch that looked prone to deterioration after a dry week.
Openers Chris Pemberton and Ed Lander started well and found movement both in the air and off the pitch but were unlucky to not make early inroads.
It took ten overs and many more balls beating the edge before Matlock managed to break through with Firth caught at gully off the bowling of Lander (3-44).
This brought Andy Lee to the crease who managed to squeeze his first delivery down to fine leg for four and never looked back from there, reaching 95 as his side moved along to 166-2.
Drew Mullaney bowled well to restrict the visitors and Pemberton also hit good areas but too many loose deliveries cost Matlock as Eckington steadily piled on the runs.
A quickfire 69 0ff 45 balls for in-form Kyle Heyns finished the innings off leaving Matlock with 285 to chase down after the break.
Leatherday, who has been scoring without fail recently, fell early for 11 as a big appeal was enough to see him LBW followed by an even bigger appeal the very next ball to have Rob Lowe out in the same manner for a duck.
Eckington’s elation was clear as they sensed a possible 27 point victory. Matlock’s middle order, however, had other ideas as Harvey Hosein, warming up for his encounter against India later this week, managed to soak up a number of overs.
Hosein’s Derbyshire team mate Drew Mullaney, who has now prioritised Matlock CC, batted well for a deserved 47 but more importantly saw out valuable time.
Burton also showed resilience facing 70 deliveries before finally being bowled by Heyns leaving the Lander brothers to survive the final few overs which they did despite a barage of verbal distraction with Eckington’s confidence high.
Matlock were stubborn as Eckington showed why they are at the top of the table. At the midpoint Matlock sit precariously above the struggling sides.
The next few weeks will be crucial as they must look to beat those teams around them if they are to play at this level again next year.