Evo-Stik Premier Division
Matlock Town 1, Buxton 1
A POINT earned away at Matlock is usually welcomed by Buxton supporters and so it was on New Year’s Day as the Bucks avoided defeat yet not often achieved the fluency of the display versus Stocksbridge.
The same team was fielded and while the defenders stuck resolutely to their task to limit the Gladiators to a few clear openings, the Bucks, particularly in the second half, struggled to mount convincing attacks.
The visitors were seen at their best in the opening quarter of a game that lacked the intensity of some previous encounters between the clubs, so much so that very competent referee Paul Thompson had no problem in keeping his cards in his pockets.
Buxton established an early ascendancy, reducing Matlock to the occasional break-out and took an 18th minute lead, once again from an expertly delivered Kevin Sandwith corner-kick.
He picked out centre-half David Haggerty five yards from the near post and his deft header found the net.
The setback seemed to galvanise Town who enjoyed a spell of possession that was aided by Buxton’s defenders failing to find a red shirt when clearing their lines.
The outcome was a 33rd minute equaliser. A free-kick 19 yards out in the inside-left channel was struck home fiercely by the experienced Lewis McMahon.
Buxton’s response before the interval showed promise. Grant Black and Matt Thornhill combined well on the right but the latter’s cross was cut out, then on the opposite flank Sam Duncum did well versus two defenders to cross dangerously. Keeper Kennedy fisted a clearance with the ball fortuitously falling to a Matlock defender, then Mark Reed had the misfortune to find Kennedy with a cheeky, but well-executed, close-range back-heel.
That promise was maintained at the start of the second half with a well-constructed passing move on the right, climaxed by a Scott Maxfield header which forced Kennedy into a tip-over save. The ensuing corner-kick almost brought disaster for the Bucks as Matlock broke out quickly to the tune of four versus two but then failed to construct a clear opening.
Thereafter the Gladiators enjoyed a majority of possession and Buxton substitutions, establishing a 4-4-2 formation, didn’t develop the control of proceedings necessary for victory.
Resolute Buxton defending thwarted Matlock attacks and the game rather fizzled out as the sides on the day were too well-matched to be separated.
Buxton: Deakin, Black, Haggerty, Roberts, Sandwith, Stevens (Nix 74), Thornhill, Istead, Maxfield, Reed, Duncum (Lugsden 63).