Matlock Town manager Glenn Kirkwood admitted his side were poor as their hopes of an Evo-Stik Northern Premier League play-off spot receded in a 1-0 defeat at ten-man Ashton United.
On a damp, heavy Hurst Cross surface the hosts deservedly took the points after an indifferent showing from the Gladiators, who slipped to tenth at a ground where they have just one NPL victory.
Disappointed Gladiators’ manager Glenn Kirkwood said: “We were poor. (Keeper) Phil Barnes was outstanding, Joe Doyle-Charles did OK, but that was just about it. Nobody else performed.”
The game was decided by the contest’s best forward, Matty Chadwick, in the 51st minute, although he was later sent off for a second bookable offence and will miss the return game at the DCJ Group Arena this weekend.
Keeper Barnes was Matlock’s star man, keeping the difference down to the single goal.
The first chance fell to the Gladiators’ Marcus Dinanga on 16 minutes. Played through by Cleveland Taylor, Dinanga’s shot was kept out by keeper Luke Pilling.
Andy Wright, brought in because of injuries, saw his shot blocked by a fellow Gladiator.
Barnes’s first excellent stop came via the post as he denied Jack Styche.
The keeper then made a quality save when Matty Chadwick cut through the Gladiators’ defence.
Barnes reacted swiftly to push out another shot from the home number 11 before the off balance Chadwick hooked the rebound wide.
Wright had a chance to turn the game Matlock’s way when he ploughed through the centre on to a through pass, but he was thwarted by fine defending from Max Cartwright who charged the shot down.
Three minutes before half-time Cartwright’s header from Chadwick’s corner hit the post and fellow defender Simon Woodford’s follow-up was blocked on the line by the busy Barnes.
A Dwayne Wiley header from Rhys Sharpe’s free kick on the left was narrowly too high as Matlock looked to begin the second half on the offensive, but they were soon facing problems as Chadwick was left free to poke a lob over the advancing Barnes to put the Robins in front.
The keeper again kept Matlock in contention, pulling off another smart save when Ryan Crowther delayed his shot.
After Chadwick’s dismissal Ashton increased their workrate aands the Gladiators lacked the inspiration to find a crucial equaliser.
Marcus Dinanga had Matlock’s best chance of salvaging a point after being found by Ted Cribley, but his shot from the edge of the box harmlessly cleared the bar as the Gladiators failed to trouble keeper Pilling in the second period.
MATLOCK TOWN: Phil Barnes, Liam Marsden, Jake Green, Joe Doyle-Charles, Nico Degirolamo (Michael Williams 84), Dwayne Wiley, Rhys Sharpe, Cleveland Taylor, Andy Wright (Curtis Morrison 55), Marcus Dinanga, Ted Cribley (Niall McManus 77) Substitutes not used: Marc Newsham, Adam Yates.