Lancaster City’s unbeaten home record came to an end as Matlock Town took all three points at Giant Axe on Saturday.
Goals from Jake Green and Ricky German saw off the in-form Dollies, who had won their last four games, with Tom Kilifin pulling a goal back late on.
It was a tepid opening from both teams with the hosts carving out their first meaningful opportunity.
Sam Bailey latched onto Hannu Tam’s through ball but Phil Barnes produced an excellent save to deny the wide man as he beared down on goal.
As the game progressed, width was proving to be key for Matlock and it was from wide where the opener was sourced.
The ball was worked to Micky Harcourt whose deflected first-time delivery was expertly guided beyond Joshua Powell by the head of Green.
Lancaster looked to respond before the interval but found Barnes in a stingy mood.
The shot-stopper once again foiled Bailey low down to his left before standing tall to deny Craig Carney after an inventive dummy by Charlie Bailey.
It was the visitors who struck next however, the impressive Michael Williams surged forward and saw the run of German and the front man raced onto the threaded ball before coolly finishing beyond the on-rushing Powell.
Williams was at the forefront of the Gladiators’ dominance in the centre of the park and his assist capped off a fine individual performance.
Filled with confidence, German once again had the Lancaster defence on the back foot but couldn’t keep his effort down from distance.
Steve Williams found himself playing as an auxiliary-striker as the Dolly Blues struggled in their pursuit of a goal and the towering centre-half’s presence no doubt played a part in the goalmouth scramble that lead to Kilifin halving the deficit nine minutes from time.
The striker reacted quickest to prod home a loose ball in the six-yard box as he netted for the second time in two substitute appearances.
Lancaster – buoyed by the goal – looked to snatch a point in the closing moments.
Carney miscued a volley from 15 yards before Kilifin skied Paul Dugdale’s driven cross from point-blank range.
Undoubtedly, Kilifin should have hit the target, however, a share of the spoils might have been harsh on the visitors.
The result leaves Lancaster in 13th in the Evo-Stik Premier Division with games in hand on the sides around them. Matlock leapfrogged City into 12th.
The Dollies are next in action when they travel to AFC Darwen in the quarter-final of the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy on Wednesday night.