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  • Writer's pictureHead Scout

Derbyshire Derby – The Markovitz Cup

Matlock Town 1-0 Buxton (Friendly)

I’ve been playing the service station game with my friends on WhatsApp. It’s got that bad, even if I don’t need the services, I find myself pulling in and taking a random photo of a newly visited MOTO or Welcome Break, just so I can send it to the lads who then throw a number of wrong guesses at me before getting bored and conversation moves on to something else, like trying to arrange a night out with a dozen 40 somethings who really can’t be arsed.

Tonight, I’ve only got 30 miles to make up, even I can’t find a worthy stop off between Nottingham and Matlock? I’ll perhaps give the game a night off and try again tomorrow, as I’m heading to Cardiff and Sophia Gardens for day four of Glamorgan v Leicestershire in the County Championship early am. Plenty more chances for service station fun.

The last game I watched at Matlock in March, there was a bit of beef between a supporter and the Ashton United Manager Steve Cunningham who used to manage Buxton… There’s no love lost in this ‘battle of the dales’ with two teams of ‘similar’ ilk separated by just twenty miles of the A6 and a few high hills besides.

The games are usually tight affairs but back in 2019 the Bucks beat the Gladiators at the Causeway six-nil in the Northern Premier League. Since then, Buxton have gained promotion to the National League North whilst Matlock have flirted with promotion in the league below, last season the two teams had solid campaigns in their respective divisions, Matlock losing in the playoffs at Warrington after a fifth placed finish, Buxton ending just a point outside the National North playoffs with an eleventh placed conclusion. The head-to-head results since that 6-0 victory have seen Buxton twice win in the league, once in a friendly and once in the Derbyshire Senior Cup, whilst Matlock did make up for their embarrassing home defeat slightly in Buxton’s championship winning season, beating them 2-1 after coming from behind in a match where James Hurst got sent off. Ross Hannah and Reece Kendall with the goals that day.

Tonight, is a pre-season friendly, all be it by name, there’s also some silverware on offer as the Markovitz Cup is up for grabs, holders Buxton won 1-0 to take the trophy in 2022, they defend their crown against their biggest rival at their Proctors Cars Stadium. Other than local bragging rights however, I’m not entirely sure what this competition entails?

As it’s a close one, I’m out the door gone 5pm stopping off in Ruddington for some petrol before heading down the Nottingham ring road and up the M1, onto the A38 past Alfreton and into Matlock via the back end through the villages of Wessington and Tansley.

The Venue

I’ve pulled up early, parking just south of the ground on the Alfreton Road so take a walk around the Hall Leys Park before entering through the turnstile where I’m scanned in and asked to immediately have a go on tonight’s fifty fifty.

I pat my empty pockets as I head straight for the toilets, behind the goal, its dark in the gents, no light on as I try to aim for the black painted trough, next port of call (after washing my hands of course) is the hatchet by the side of the Twigg Stand which serves me a cup of tea and a steak pie chips and gravy for £7 cash.

I’m sitting down on a step to eat my nights dinner as I take in the surroundings of a lovely idyllic countryside venue, of course I’ve been here before but under the summer night skies as the light glows between clouds, looking left to the old Riber Castle high up in the distance, cricket pitch behind the goal of one end, brand new apartments behind the goal of the other, trees and hills hogging the horizon straight across, it all feels quaint and serine, as I spot local photographer Dan Westwell walking in and snapping away.

I say a quick hello to Dan and wish him well before finishing my pie and chips and heading up to the top of the Twigg Stand where a tiny press area is too small to even consider sitting in, I’m at the top of the seated stand around ten rows up, halfway with a cracking view as I ask around if anyone knows if it could go to penalties if the scores are level tonight?

Nobody has a clue, a member of staff has gone to ask, and eventually returns to tell me there is, no chance of sharing the trophy or Buxton retaining it on a draw, perhaps this cup is more serious than first thought?

As I phone in HQ to tell them the game format for the evening may now include spot kicks, I can’t hear myself talk, the tannoy music is loud, someone asks if the record is stuck as Fatboy Slim is played, before Zayde Wolf’s Gladiator is belted out ahead of the two teams coming out.

The Game

As the match kicks off, the twenty or thirty Buxton fans behind the goal shout “what do you think of Matlock” in response the Town fans sing “you can shove your Buxton water up your arse”

Within minutes the physio’s been on the pitch a couple of times already, late challenges and leaving one in, the order of the day for the midfield battle, I feel sorry for Matlock’s poor trialist who lasts just five minutes before coming off clattered by a Buxton player.

It’s niggly but not quite nasty yet, new Bucks signing Jake Wright has had a snap at a couple of Matlock defenders as I tell the guy next to me “from watching him at Boston last season, I’ve learned he’s an angry man.”

He holds nothing back as he goes in on the keeper to win a 30/70 a true feisty forward who's a complete irritant for any defender to mark. A good player who I really like, but boy he plays on the edge, his seasons goal count usually the same as his bookings total, double figures assured for both.

As well as being strong in the tackle and certainly up for the battle across the pitch, Buxton are neat on the ball too, Connor Kirby and Jack McCourt are decent in midfield but they do opt for the predictable diagonal a little too much, getting it to the feet of Tom Elliott and Jordan Barnett seem much better solutions to knocking balls out right and ‘over the top’ whilst Sam Osbourne offers some guile and quality in possession down the left. He's not used nearly enough.

The away side do show moments of invention but the hosts are well drilled, their squad is decimated on paper with only nine regular players named and a bunch of trialists on the bench, I ask ‘where is everybody’ to be told a few are out injured and a couple still on holiday.

The absentees however don’t hinder Matlock going forward, a long ball for Karl Demidh to run onto gets the Buxton defence turned and Max Hunt is silly to dive in, he gives away a soft penalty as Demidh looked to be going nowhere, the striker picking himself up, and prodding home from the spot, although Max Dearnley might have felt disappointed not to have kept it out.

The Score

That goal, the only one of the game is enough to settle the score, Buxton make nine changes at half time whilst the home side stagger their substitutions of trialist incomings, neither side really look like scoring again but it’s a good keenly contested scrap, the visitors best outlet is Curtis Weston who’s direct down the right, Jordan Burrow and Diego de Girolamo enter the field and impress in the second half but the Matlock back-line is solid and unbreeched, their trialist substitute goalkeeper is a rock with some good stops and has the home fans singing “sign him up” towards Manager Martin Carruthers.

The Stars

Buxton have more of the ball and I’m impressed with their regular go-tos in Tom Elliott, Connor Kirby, Jordan Barnett and Sam Osbourne each gliding along with direct intent in the first half, in the second 45, striker Diego de Girolamo picks the ball up in pockets, he’s always up for a shimmy or feint, new signing Jordan Burrow is a handful besides him, regularly leaping like a salmon and outjumping centre halfs who he’s more than happy to scrap with, It’s my first look at Connor Brown who’s very good at right back, having signed from Barrow he’ll bring valuable experience next season having also played near 100 games for Oldham, whilst my favourite player is arguably Josh Granite, a centre half who’s exactly what it says on the tin.

For Matlock, Harry Wakefield and Karl Demidh looked busy in the first half up top, they look to have a good partnership going off, whilst defensively the side were solid, in midfield they slightly lacked creativity, but were more than a match in physicality for Buxton, Andrew Wright and Jamie Sharman in particular, having a good game.

The Verdict

The match itself although lacking in goalmouth entertainment was at least fast paced and full bodied, unlike your usual pre-season friendly type of slow paced stand-off football, but more like a cup game, which after all it was, for Buxton I see more positivity in their loss, they just need to find a right balanced XI that can prosper in their division, which I’m sure in time they will, whilst Matlock with less frills, are at least organised and will take plenty of points off teams next season, although it might not always be that pretty to watch.

First trophy of the campaign for the Gladiators? I predict it might be the last, although these two teams could meet again in the Derbyshire Senior Cup, where the fans can again spurt unpleasantries at eachother, by then, I predict Buxton will be fully into their stride with an outside push at promotion not out of question, whilst Matlock will be strutting their stuff in the middle of the NPL.

The Teams

Matlock Town: Saul Deeney (Trialist 46), Robbie McNicholas, Joe West (Trialist 64), Sam Hopper, Trialist (Trialist 64), Ioan Evans, Jamie Sharman, Andrew Wright, Harry Wakefield, Karl Demidh (Trialist 46), Trialist (Trialist 5).

Buxton: Max Dearnley (Trialist 46), Connor Brown, Jack McCourt (Nathan Newell 46), Luke Shiels (Josh Granite 46), Connor Kirby (Sam Smart 46), Jake Wright (Diego de Girolamo 46), Tom Elliott, Sam Osbourne (Curtis Weston 46), Trialist (Chris Dawson 46), Jordan Barnett, Max Hunt.

7:45pm Kick Off. Wednesday 12th July 2023, Causeway Lane, Matlock (att 448).

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