City slickers peg back Gladiators

Chris Bettney
Chris Bettney
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Matlock Town 1, Bradford City 1

Friday night’s friendly was billed as the return of a hero in Ross Hannah and whether he would inflict the pain on his old mates that he had done for them so very often in the past.

The answer to that question was an emphatic ‘no’ as the former Gladiators goal machine scarcely got a sniff through poor service from his new colleagues and a tip top display from the home defenders.

The League Two Bantams fielded most if not all of their first choice squad, but were unable to break down a stubborn Matlock whose workrate and application could not be faulted.

And with a little more luck and steadier finishing, Mark Atkins’ side could even have forced a win.

Managers will tell you that results don’t matter so much in pre-season matches, but both sides were keen to secure victory.

Early promise for the Gladiators came when Ian Holmes broke down the right for his cross to break for he incoming Ryan Mallon whose shot was blocked at the expense of a corner.

Tall striker James Hanson drove high over the bar in City’s reply, then a marvellous clearing header from James Lukic stopped a quickly taken free kick from finding Hanson.

A tremendous midfield challenge from Liam King set up Holmes who tried his luck from distance but his effort was wayward but Holmes was to have better luck on 24 minutes.

Chris Bettney found space on the right to whip in a delicious centre and the returning Holmes guided a neat header low past Rhys Evans and into the corner of the net.

Then when Micky Harcourt found Bettney, another cracking pass sent Nathan Joynes clear but his first time shot looped high over the bar.

Joynes then limped off with Kris Bowler coming on.

City probably should have equalised in the 32nd minute when Hanson easily beat Lee Featherstone to ricochet to a clearly surprised Hannah who could only prod gently to Matlock’s new goalkeeper Jon Kennedy.

Experienced giant centre back Guy Branston, sometimes caught out on pace when defending, somehow found himself on the left flank and his dangerous centre was headed behind by Simon Sturdy.

But the City equaliser came from the second headed goal of the night as Hanson powered in a header from a right wing Chris Mitchell cross ten minutes before the break.

Matlock fans were impressed by their new goalkeeper who saved excellently from Stewart again on 53 minutes.

But it was the hosts who nearly regained the lead when from a corner just before the hour, substitute Adam Yates saw his venomous header cleared off the line.

Matlock: Kennedy, Harcourt, Featherstone, King, Sturdy, Lukic, Bettney, Joynes, Holmes, Davies, Mallon. Subs used: Yates, Bowler, Whittington, Warne, Turner, Kendall, Witcombe, Bracken, Haran.

Attendance: 364.