Buxton 1, Matlock Town 3
Ross Hannah was the talk of Buxton, Matlock and beyond as he smashed the Gladiators’ record for goals scored in a season, and at the same time shattering the Bucks’ play-off hopes.
Buxton needed to better North Ferriby United’s result at Frickley and possibly overturn a six goals deficit.
But that scenario never looked on as Hannah plundered a fantastic hat-trick to take his season’s tally to an amazing 52.
Bobby Mountain hit 49 goals in the 1982/83 campaign, but Hannah has surpassed this to become a legend in Gladiator fans eyes.
As Hannah pointed out afterwards it was a hat-trick that had everything. One goal with his right foot, one with his left, with a header in the middle.
Nobody could deny him his delight, nor his confidence as he spoke afterwards, but as always, his humility meant that he had time to praise his team mates.
He said: “I’m ever so happy for it’s a fantastic achievement. I’d have been pleased to equal last season’s total but to get 52 is absolutely amazing. It’d have been nice to get the record in front of the home crowd last Saturday, but to get it here, on the ground of your local rivals is definitely more satisfying. I couldn’t have achieved this without the rest of the lads and the support of the fans has been brilliant, so all in all I’m on top of the world.”
Only time will tell if Hannah is wearing a Gladiators shirt next season. But if this was his farewell appearance, he certainly made it one to remember, both for himself and his supportive family, and the Town fans.
More remarkable was that Matlock had to play the last third of the contest with just ten men following Kris Bowler’s 59th minute red card for foul and abusive language at referee Andrew Wood.
Hannah gave Matlock a 20th minute lead before the home side levelled through Josh Wilde.
The Town goal king bagged two more in the second-half, one in stoppage time, to take his total to an amazing 52.
The victory saw Matlock end the campaign in 11th spot.
Meanwhile, a crowd of 1,249 flocked to the Reynolds Arena for Matlock’s clash with FC United of Manchester.
The second-in-the-table visitors eneded Matlock’s play-off homes with a when they returned home with a 2-1 win.
Their win was all the more remarkable as they were forced to play striker Ben Deegan in goal for the entire contest with regular goalkeeper Sam Ashton suspended and his deputy Grant Shenton at a wedding!
But Hannah had a quiet day and Matlock scarcely tested Deegan and United’s vast travelling support, impeccably behaved throughout, were able to celebrate their play-off slot in the hot April sunshine.
Hannah was booked after only three minutes for diverting a cross over Deegan and into the net with his hand. Deegan was then able to comfortably field an effort from Liam King which was straight at him and lacked power.
In the 38th minute Wolfenden broke the deadlock. A fiercely struck Tierney shot reared up at the diving Buxton who managed to parry but the ball fell to the winger who reacted the quickest and drove home the rebound.
With the second half less than a minute old, the Gladiators equalised. Hannah floated in a free kick from the right and nobody tracked James Lukic who headed convincingly past Deegan.
But on 53 minutes a rare Lukic error gifted United the lead again when he was dispossessed by Jerome Wright as he tried to find Ben Turner. Wright had a clear path to goal and kept calm and collected to slot a precision finish past Buxton.
Matlock’s season fizzled out and it’s a case of preparing for a challenge next term.
On the day consolation came for them from their largest crowd for a league game since the 1,038 witnessed United’s Sunday visit two seasons ago.