Gresley will play Matlock Town in the Derbyshire FA Senior Challenge Cup final following their impressive 3-0 win over Buxton. Matlock's penalty victory over holders Alfreton Town sets up a replay of the 2015 final, with the South Derbyshire side looking for revenge over a strong Matlock outfit.
Report by Joel Moore
DCFA Senior Challenge Cup Semi-Final
Gresley FC - 3-0 Buxton FC
Referee: Timothy Walker
Assistant Referee: James King
Assistant Referee: Gareth Davis
The rain and mud couldn’t detract from what was a magnificent effort from NPL Division One South side, comfortably defeating Buxton who are situated a league above The Moatmen.
The hosts had most of the ball in the opening stages, but it was the visitors who managed to fashion the first chance. Buxton forward Bradley Grayson received a pass from Matty Williams, before turning inside the area and firing a left footed shot just wide of the far post.
It didn’t take long for Gresley to break the deadlock and after 6 minutes they took lead. The goal came through young striker Keenan King who picked up the ball just inside the Buxton half, before driving through the centre and unleashing a fierce, accurate shot into the bottom left corner.
The Bucks looked for an immediate response from a corner but Sam Brooks’ looping header went wide.
Gresley remained on the front foot as they pushed for a second, Reece Morris got into a good position after a flying run down the right but his pull-back failed to find a fellow red shirt.
Tom Manship almost extended Gresley’s lead in the 16th minute as he lashed a first-time effort into the side netting from a tight angle.
The Moatmen continued their pressure as in the 17th minute another chance went begging as Lucas Harrison’s drive into the 6-yard box was scrambled wide.
Towards the end of the first half there was more panic in the Buxton box as the ball bobbled around in the area, with multiple shots being blocked.
Jamie Jackson looked to pave a way back into the game for Buxton just before half-time but his powerful effort was parried wide by Max Atkin.
Gresley began the second half in electric form and netted a second in the 48th minute. Morris doubled the home side’s lead as he clinically tucked his volley under Jack Barlow after a superb initial cross from debutant Leandro Cobas-Ladrero.
The away side were forced to respond and almost found a route back into the game, but Grayson’s long range curling effort struck the post.
This was swiftly followed by an opportunity for Joel Bembo-Leta, but he could only flick his header into the hands of Atkin following Brad Abbot’s floated cross.
The game became more of an even affair as both sides created an equal number of chances, however opportunities were few and far between as the surface of the pitch began to worsen.
Gresley substitute Matt Melbourne had the chance to put the game to bed in the 78th minute but he blazed over after being played through by Hammond.
Nicky Walker then came within inches of giving Buxton a life-line as his effort deflected onto the cross bar in the 83rd minute.
Gresley did a brilliant job of slowing the game down in the final stages and expertly took the momentum out of Buxton heading into the closing five minutes.
Morris added the gloss to what was a fine victory as he bagged his second in the 93rd minute. The number eight seized on an error in the Buxton half before showing his composure to round Barlow and roll the ball past the retreating defender into the bottom left corner.
DCFA Senior Challenge Cup Semi-Final
Matlock Town FC - 3-3 Alfreton Town FC (Home side win 5-4 on penalties)
Referee: James Oldham
Assistant Referee: Nick Hopton
Assistant Referee: Alix Pashley
In the other semi-final, Matlock Town FC overcame current holders Alfreton Town FC 5-4 on penalties following a 3-3 draw in 90 minutes. After going 2-0 down early on, Matlock fought back to complete the comeback and lead 3-2. Alfreton drew the game level, sending the tie to spot-kicks which were narrowly won by the home side.
Marcus Dinanga converts a late penalty for Matlock to lead 3-2. Photography by Richard Parkes.
The date and venue for the DCFA Senior Challenge Cup Final will be declared at a later date.