Worksop Town 4 Matlock Town 2
A nightmare eight second-half minutes saw Matlock concede three goals to relinquish a 2-1 lead and leave Sandy Lane pointless on Bank Holiday Monday.
After suffering a 6-1 thrashing at the same venue last term, there was more agony for Mark Atkins and his men this time as goalkeeper Jon Kennedy was helped off with an eye injury with assistant boss Nick Buxton taking over between the posts on 19 minutes.
Then in the second-half the Matlock boss himself left the arena, being banished to the stands by referee Chris Akers who failed to impress with an error-ridden and impudent performance.
Matlock retained the squad on duty in the win against Nantwich and were soon asking questions of a Tigers defence including former Gladiators Laurence Gaughan and Phil Roe.
They should have been in front inside two minutes as Lavell White’s cross seemed to drop perfectly for Liam Needham who lifted his shot over with only goalkeeper Liam Flynn to beat.
Soon afterwards Danny Holland’s first time shot was kept out by Flynn before Worksop responded, Roe’s 22 yarder narrowly clearing the bar.
But Matlock continued in the ascendancy as Holland again went close before Daryll Thomas drove inches too high.
Matlock’s bright start darkened as Kennedy clashed with Connor Higginson as he made a brave and tremendous save on 19 minutes and then had to leave for Bassetlaw Hospital for treatment to cuts and bruises above and below the eye.
Corey Gregory’s excellent controlled volley from a James Ashmore cross gave the visitors a deserved 26th minute lead which lasted barely three minutes.
David Haggerty challenged the giant 6’5”Tom Denton in the box, Mr Akers blew for a foul and Jack Muldoon converted the spot kick.
Haggerty met a 34th minute corner to put an unchallenged header wide as Matlock threatened again and when Gaughan caught Holland late on 42 minutes, Thomas netted his fourth goal of the season from the resulting penalty.
Worksop’s Ellis Wall drove off target as an action packed half ended with Flynn keeping out a Thomas shot after Ashmore and Needham had seen efforts blocked.
Matlock had certainly enjoyed the better of the opening half and that pattern continued in the opening stages of the second period.
Joe Leesley combined sweetly with White to fire wide before Gregory headed a Holland cross too high. Matlock forced four corners in quick succession with the pressure ending with Holland’s effort being a whisker wide.
Then it all went wrong as Denton stuck out a long leg to force home a cross from substitute Shaq McKenzie on 59 minutes.
Then within two minutes McKenzie squeezed a shot beyond Buxton to turn the match on its head.
The mad burst ended with a catalogue of mistakes in the Matlock defence, capitalised on by Muldoon who cracked home his second goal of the contest.
A frustrated Needham was booked before the Gladiators were highly unfortunate not to score their third with Thomas striking the bar in a mad scramble when several other shots were charged down.
Then off went Atkins as the game quietened down, save for Flynn nicking the ball off Thomas’s toes from an Anthony Griffith-Junior pass.
A combination of bad luck, poor refereeing and unforced errors on their own part had spoiled what promised and threatened to be a winning afternoon for Matlock. The Kennedy injury was certainly crucial.
WORKSOP TOWN: 1 Liam Flynn 2 Alex Pursehouse 3 Phil Roe 4 Josh Davies 5 Laurence Gaughan 6 Kern Miller 7 Jack Muldoon (15 Mitch Husbands 88) 8 Shane Clarke 9 Tom Denton (17 Tom Mullen 83) 10 Conor Higginson 11 Ellis Wall (16 Shaq McKenzie 54) Other subs: 12 Chris Salt 14 Jack Barnett
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy (13 Nick Buxton 19) 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Joe Leesley 4 Lavelle White 5 David Haggerty 6 Oscar Radford 7 Corey Gregory (14 Anthony Griffiths-Junior 68) 8 James Ashmore 9 Danny Holland 10 Darryl Thomas 11 Liam Needham (12 Gareth Davies 85) Other subs: 15 Martin Foster 16 Jordan Snodin
REFEREE: C Akers--Maltby ATTENDANCE: 356 BEST GLADIATOR: James Ashmore
Report by Ian Richardson