Buxton narrowly won the A6 derby despite Matlock being the more accomplished side for much of the contest but it seems likely that neither side will qualify for the play-offs.
Matlock’s chance has definitely gone and Buxton are relying very heavily on results elsewhere, probably a miracle in fact, to get through.
Former Gladiator Bradley Grayson struck twice before half-time to give the Bucks a match winning advantage which Marcus Dinanga halved 13 minutes into the second half.
But Matlock could not find the equaliser they deserved and were left reflecting on what they say as a controversial opening goal when Phil Barnes, on his first return to the Silverlands, looked to be fouled by Greg Young contesting a high ball leaving Grayson with a simple finish.
That goal on 15 minutes came against the run of the play, Matlock having made a bright start on a cold overcast Easter Monday afternoon.
Young did well inside the first two minutes to cut out Ted Cribley’s cross which looked bound for the waiting Marc Newsham who then headed a Niall McManus centre off target.
The Bucks had scarcely threatened before the 15th minute incident which would put Matlock on the back foot.
But the visitors reacted positively with Michael Williams and McManus having shots charged down. The goal though, appeared to upset Barnes who uncharacteristically went on the runaround to hunt the ball and was relieved to see Alistair Taylor fire over the bar.
Equally uncharacteristic was the unfortunate slip by Adam Yates which led to the Bucks doubling their lead on 29 minutes.
Yates would clear his lines from a routine knock down the centre ninety nine times out of a hundred but Buxton struck lucky and that good fortune increased as the ball sat up conveniently for Grayson to flick home.
Again Matlock responded positively, Williams firing across the face of the goal on 36 minutes before he volleyed over the bar from 25 yards shortly afterwards.
Then Bucks’ goalkeeper Jan Budtz did well to make a last ditch save with his outstretched right leg to divert a low Dinanga shot behind for an unproductive corner.
Matlock were still well in the contest but needed an early reply in the second half.
That response came when Dinanga pounced on slack home defending to easily find the net with a low strike anfd then it was game on.
Just before the goal the hosts brought on star striker Liam Hardy who was soon being hauled down by Dwayne Wiley who was rightly booked and perhaps slightly fortunate to stay on the field. Grayson crashed the free kick wide.
Then Wiley was in the thick of the action at the opposite end, a spell of pressure resulting in three quick corners, Wiley heading the final one over the bar.
Shortly afterwards Young was in the way to divert a dangerous low cross from Cribley for another flag kick which Buxton again survived.
Niall Doran was booked for a mistimed challenge on McManus, soon to be followed by Yates who went in late on Grayson, substitute Luke Hinsley’s shot in between the bookings being deflected harmlessly wide.
Barnes saved well from a power packed Hardy drive with six minutes left but most of the play was at the other end, the Bucks defending with organisation and vigour to keep the Gladiators at bay. Joe Doyle-Charles, who ran his heart out for Matlock, drove narrowly too high from the edge of the box, but the pressure would not yield anything further of note.
So Buxton need a win at Marine at the weekend for an unlikely extension to their season, but if Workington defeat relegated Ilkeston in West Cumbria on Wednesday, Saturday’s game will be of no consequence.
Matlock have come up narrowly short but have enjoyed a good season.
With Saturday’s opponents Warrington Town also narrowly missing out on a play off spot, Matlock will be looking for a win to round off their league campaign on a high note at the DCJ Group Arena.
BUXTON: 1 Jan Budtz 2 Joel Bembo-Leta 3 Jamie Green 4 Ricky Ravenhill 5 Joe Maguire 6 Greg Young 7 Alistair Taylor (14 Liam Hardy 55) 8 Brad Abbott 9 Bradley Grayson 10 Joe McGee (12 Luke Hinsley 51) 11 Niall Doran Other subs: 15 Nicky Walker 16 Jamie Jackson 17 Matty Williams
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Liam Marsden 3 Rhys Sharpe 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Niall McManus 8 Michael Williams 9 Marc Newsham (16 Curtis Morrison 79) 10 Marcus Dinanga 11 Ted Cribley Other subs: 12 Cleveland Taylor 14 Jamie Yates 15 Andy Wright 17 Nico Degirolamo
REFEREE: Lee Doughty (Preston).
BEST BUCK: Greg Young.
BEST GLADIATOR: Joe Doyle-Charles.