Belper Town edged past their Matlock counterparts with a narrow 3-2 victory in a game that saw both teams reduced to 10 men.
Prior to the game, a minute’s silence was observed in memory of Leek Town Academy student Jordan Burndred who sadly passed away after suffering a heart attack whilst on holiday in Turkey.
The Gladiators were the first to celebrate after just 10 minutes when Matlock ‘keeper Corey Bulheller launched a long clearance which the Belper defence failed to deal with, leaving Lewis Brown an easy task to slip the ball into the net.
But Belper responded well, equalising after 25 minutes when Joel Cain’s shot deflected into the path of Scott Taylor who lifted the ball into the roof of the Matlock net.
Brown then went close for Matlock moments later, firing over the crossbar from a good position as the visitors looked to go back in front.
Ethan Camm then scored Belper’s second goal after 35 minutes and immediately afterwards an altercation between Matlock ‘keeper Bulheller and Belper forward Joe Cain ended with them both receiving their marching orders from referee Mark Hutton.
Ethan Camm had just scored Belper’s second goal.
All of which left the game a little flat until Jack Madin netted Matlock’s second goal just before interval when the Belper defence allowed the young Gladiator to drive into the area and score into the far corner.
Matlock’s outstanding player Ben Edgson then sent a snapshot inches wide as the visitors started to get a firm grip on the game but it was the Nailers that went back in front on the hour mark when skipper Sam Weston rose at the far post to head in a corner kick.
Now it was Belper’s turn to move into the ascendency as a Josh Bullock overhead kick forced the substitute ‘keeper into a smart save.
However, the Gladiators were far from finished as Scott Taylor needed to be perfectly positioned to clear the ball off the goal line when an equalising goal looked to be on the cards.
But, as the game moved towards a conclusion, it was the home side that dominated possession and denied Matlock any further clear cut opportunities, despite seven minutes of added-on time.