Chorley 1, Matlock Town 0
One rash moment cost Matlock a hard earned point at the Chorley Nissan Victory Park as the Gladiators returned to league action after a three-week break.
Ben Algar needlessly bundled over home striker Matt Walwyn giving Chorley substitute and top scorer Steve Foster the chance to gleefully accept a spot kick gift, fiercely rifling his shot into the roof of Jon Kennedy’s net with 11 minutes to go.
A penalty always looked to be the best bet of the deadlock being broken. Chorley wasted a couple of glorious second half chances while Matlock never looked as if they would find the target, having just two shots all afternoon.
Manager Mark Atkins handed a debut to Laurence Gaughan, starting him at right back, but he soon swapped positions with Micky Harcourt to play on the left.
On a cold bright day, Chorley looked for an early goal but a stubborn Matlock comfortably dealt with their advances. Kennedy comfortably gathered a shot from Tom Ince and then James Lukic did well to clear another effort from Ince after an error from Adam Yates.
Ian Holmes as the lone striker worked tirelessly but had little meaningful support.
Gareth Davies was often the furthest forward of the midfield quintet but was often stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea.
It was getting the balance right between venturing into deadly positions or staying put and sadly for Matlock the wrong option was taken on too many occasions, hence the Gladiators were toothless as an attacking force.
A promising opening developed for the visitors in the 20th minute when Holmes released Bettney with a peach of a pass down the right but the move petered out when Bettney crossed poorly and goalkeeper russ Saunders was allowed an easy catch.
Gaughan drove wide from 25 yards in the 32nd minute, with the game now a battle of attrition in midfield on a heavy pitch.
Chorley came close to securing an interval lead when on 40 minutes, Ince’s free kick was diverted inches past Kennedy’s right hand post by the outstretched leg of central defender Andy Russell.
As half time approached a great clearing header at the expense of a corner by Harcourt kept the scoresheet blank.
Midfielder Jamie Vermiglio had a shot blocked as Chorley were quick out of the blocks as the second half got under way.
The hosts had Russell and Roscoe booked in quick succession for heavy challenges with Vermiglio to follow them later in the contest.
Home boss Gary Flitcroft introduced his trump card in the 74th minute as Foster came on. He had failed from the spot in the last home game with Stafford Rangers, but this time he made no mistake to earn the Magpies all three points.
The goal prompted Atkins to introduce Liam Wilkin, Craig Nelthorpe and Tyeisse Nightingale in the closing stages, but apart from a Bowler shot which Saunders gathered comfortably, there was nothing in the tank to trouble the homesters who on the balance of play just about deserved the victory.
Chorley rose to second spot following the win and results elsewhere, while Matlock dropped a place to 14th, now having taken just seven out of the last 30 points up for grabs. It was their third defeat on the bounce.
A repeat of the 4-0 trouncing Matlock handed to Chorley back in October was never on the cards.
Matlock Town: Kennedy, Harcourt, Gaughan, King, Yates, Lukic, Bettney (Nelthorpe 84), Bowler, Holmes, Davies (Wilkin 80), Algar (Nightingale 87) Other subs: Featherstone, Buxton.