Boxing Day joy for Buxton as they come from behind to beat Matlock

Buxton v Matlock.'Craig King.
Buxton v Matlock.'Craig King.
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Buxton completed a terrific turnaround to seize the points in the Boxing Day tussle against Matlock at the Silverlands, winning 3-2.

The Bucks recovered from a two-goal deficit to beat their relegation-threatened rivals in an action-packed derby that sees Martin McIntosh’s side rise to second in the table.

Buxton v Matlock.'Liam Hardy outjumps Ellis Humble.

Buxton v Matlock.'Liam Hardy outjumps Ellis Humble.

Right-back Alex Byrne made his full debut in Stuart Ludlam’s absence but it was a collective defensive responsibility that accounted for the visitors establishing a two-goal lead in the first quarter of the match.

Such a scenario seemed highly unlikely as the Bucks dominated the opening exchanges, with the highlight being a thunderous 30-yard drive just wide of a post by skipper Laurie Wilson.

However, from their first attack Matlock’s Gregory scored after the home rearguard failed to clear its lines.

Only eight minutes later Town’s lead was doubled in similar circumstances, though it was right-back Harcourt who this time found the net.

An early response seemed necessary if the Bucks were to salvage anything and on the half-hour Liam Hardy proved the trusty marksman from close range as a free-kick from the centre circle found its way to him.

Suitably encouraged, Buxton were near to an equaliser just prior to the interval as first Greg Young then Wilson had goal-bound shots blocked.

Nonetheless only seven minutes into the second half it was 2-2 and again it was a composed Hardy shot that did the trick.

Fed by Craig King, the striker cut in from the inside-left channel and found the far side of the net via ‘keeper Kennedy’s left hand.

By then a steady snowfall was driving the Bucks up the slope and the momentum achieved by the equaliser promised that a potentially decisive third goal would soon follow.

The introduction of record scorer Mark Reed to a central attacking role at half-time had allowed ex-Matlock striker Shaun Tuton to maraud up the right and from there he regularly tormented Town’s left flank with his strength and powerful running.

Buxton’s defenders were also prompting attacks and just short of the hour the lively Byrne began a passing move that forced a corner-kick from which mayhem ensued in the Gladiators’ penalty box.

From another Jamie Green corner, Young headed over the bar while from a free-kick Wilson shot wide.

Maintaining the pressure, Harcourt had to head an inswinging Wilson corner from under the bar before a superb flicked header by Neil Stevens preceded the scramble ended by Reed’s point-blank finish in the 76th minute.

Thereafter, Buxton’s priority shifted to averting a late Matlock fight-back with midfielder Derek Niven replacing Hardy as McIntosh reverted to a 4-4-2 formation.

Even so, Tuton continued his right-flank raids and the 84th minute could have produced another Buxton goal.

Reed’s superb ball into space put Tuton away but he didn’t find the unmarked King in the centre and the chance was gone.

Meanwhile the visitors couldn’t find an effective response and referee Astley ended the vastly entertaining proceedings as the snow began to settle.

Bucks: Jameson, Byrne, Palmer, Young, Green, Taylor (Reed), Stevens, Wilson, King, Tuton, Hardy.

Subs not used: Doyle, Williams, Ryan.

Att: 341.