Matlock Town came from behind to beat Belper Town 2-1 and set up a Derbyshire Senior Cup semi-final home clash with either Alfreton Town or Buxton.
George Milner’s 64th minute goal looked to have given a hard working, resilient and at times a more assertive Belper side a place in the last four.
But a cracking Luke Hinsley finish had Matlock on equal terms just four minutes later before Marcus Marshall’s shot found its way past Leigh Overton with only three minutes left.
It was hard on Belper but in cup football merely getting through is the main objective no matter how well or not so well you play.
The Nailers, one tier below Matlock in the pyramid, might have drawn first blood in only two minutes when Milner broke clear but was unable to beat Jordan Pierrepont.
Nelthorpe shot too high from 18 yards before for Matlock, Craig King’s effort was charged down and the resultant cross was too far from Jackson out on the right.
Long-Range strikes from both Cleveland Taylor and Brad Beatson whistled narrowly over and wide respectively while Belper’s Pietu Crouz, whose pace and trickery caused Matlock a host of problems, cut in to fire horribly wide soon afterwards.
Dwayne Wiley screwed a miscued shot wide before the Gladiators came within a few inches of taking a 43rd minute lead when Craig Westcarr’s goal-bound effort was cleared to safery by Danny South.
Crouz, not for the first time, sprinted down the left to whack a teasing low cross along the Gladiators six yard line and shortly after the hosts had made two quick substitutions, including the important introduction of Hinsley,
Crouz was at the heart of Belper going in front as he beat Beevers on the right and his low cross was forced home from close range by Milner.
A shock looked on the cards, but Luke Hinsley had other ideas, latching on to Dwayne Wiley’s head down from a Davie cross to smash a sensational 12 yards volley just under the bar and into the top corner.
Now it was game on and Belper had a purple spell of pressure from which they should have won the tie. Nelthorpe, well placed saw his strike deflect over the bar off a home defender before he had an even better chance, running clear but Pierrepont was out in a flash to block his shot.
The teenage goalkeeper then saved his side again with another excellent stop to deny Milner his second goal.
Matlock made Belper pay dearly for those misses as King’s delightful pass released Marshall whose low shot reared up past Overton to find the net with a defender also looking to have helped the ball on its route to the target.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jordan Pierrepont 2 Taron Hare (16 Michael Hollingsworth 57) 3 Tom Davie 4 Cleveland Taylor 5 Brad Beatson 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Jamie Jackson (17 Jordan Chapell 71) 8 Lee Beevers 9 Craig Westcarr (15 Luke Hinsley 59) 10 Marcus Marshall 11 Craig King.
Other subs: 12 Harry Wood 14 Ashton Hall
BELPER TOWN: 1 Leigh Overton 2 Cameron Hough (12 Isaac Assenso 71) 3 Cameron Clark 4 Derry Robson 5 Danny South 6 Alex Peterson 7 Pietu Crouz 8 Danny Gordon 9 George Milner 10 Nathan Curtis (15 Kai Hancock 84) 11 Craig Nelthorpe.
Other subs: 14 Jake Sturgess 16 Seyaboush Esmaeily 17 Alfred Thompson
REFEREE: James Oldham (Derby).
BEST GLADIATOR: Jordan Pierrepont.
BEST NAILER: Pietu Crouz.