Matlock Town host Buxton on Bank Holiday Monday in one of the most eagerly anticipated A6 derbies of all time. The Gladiators and the Bucks are second and first in the Northern Premier League Premier Division respectively and the winner of the game will be guaranteed to end the calendar year as league leaders.

There is of course extra spice going into this derby clash with the fact that Matlock gaffer Paul Phillips previously managed Buxton before his current tenure at the Gladiators.

This is Matlock Town's final game of 2021 and the Gladiators have a big opportunity to end the calendar year in style by going top of the league by beating their main rivals and leapfrogging them at the top of the division by winning back the bragging rights between these two fierce Derbyshire rivals. With so many Premier League and Football League fixtures being postponed very recently due to Covid cases, a bumper crowd is expected for this crucial and intriguing derby clash.

The Opposition

Buxton currently sit top of the Northern Premier League Premier Division and are two points ahead of Matlock Town after having played the same amount of games. In their most recent game, the Bucks lost 2-1 at home to FC United of Manchester in the league. In their most recent away trip, Buxton lost 1-0 to Lancaster City at the Giant Axe in the NPL Premier Division. These two results though have been Buxton's only defeats so far in this season's league campaign after 21 games. Buxton were founded back in 1877 and are affectionately known as The Bucks. They play their home games at The Tarmac Silverlands Stadium in the town of Buxton in Derbyshire. The Stadium can hold up to 4,000 spectators with a seated capacity of 490. The Tarmac Silverlands Stadium holds the distinction of being the highest football ground in England - the ground is 1,000 feet above sea level. The Bucks are widely seen as Matlock Town's biggest and fiercest rivals and vice-versa. Their manager is Steve Cunningham. Cunningham only took over at the club last month following the shock decision to sack Gary Hayward despite the fact Buxton had not lost one single game in their league campaign at this point. Before taking over the Buxton managerial post, Cunningham enjoyed a successful spell at Curzon Ashton before he was also sacked in another decision that seemed to come from nowhere. Before Curzon Ashton, Cunningham managed Lancashire outfit Colne. The last trophy Buxton won was the Derbyshire Senior Cup back in the 2011-12 season. In the 2006-07 campaign, the Bucks lifted the Northern Premier League Division One league title and the Northern Premier League President's Cup.

One to Watch 35 year-old forward Jamie Ward will be a key player for Matlock Town fans to look out for, particularly with the absence of the injured Diego De Girolamo. Ward is an outstanding talent and has played for clubs many levels above Step Three of non-league football and has made numerous appearances internationally for Northern Ireland's senior team. Jamie made a name for himself at Chesterfield. He scored 31 times in 74 appearances for the Spireites between 2006 and 2009. Ward then went on to play in the Championship for a number of seasons with the likes of Sheffield United, Derby County and Nottingham Forest. During this time, Ward also went on to make 35 appearances for Northern Ireland's senior side and scored four goals Ward joined Buxton in August of this year and has scored eight league goals so far this season for the Bucks. Team News Matlock Town will be boosted by the return of skipper Liam Hughes from suspension. Shaun Rowley is still out injured but Dan Wallis is available for selection again after being cup-tied last weekend for the FA Trophy game against York City. Previous Meeting The last time this derby took place was on Boxing Day during the first Covid-hit season. In an extraordinary league game at The Proctor Cars Stadium, Matlock went 2-0 up after just five minutes thanks to goals from Luke Hinsley and Tomas Poole. Incredibly though, Buxton staged a remarkable comeback and ended up winning the derby clash 4-2 in front of a crowd of 922.

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