FC United of Manchester 2, Matlock Town 1
After being outplayed in the first-half and deservedly two goals down at the interval, Matlock rallied strongly and were a shade unlucky not to bring home a point from Stalybridge as United clung on to the victory.
The Gladiators were given a footballing lesson by United in the first half, but a strong half-time team talk plus a significant change which saw Adam Yates slotted into midfield brought about a fine second half Matlock display. It was possibly their best 45 minutes for months!
The pendulum swung in United’s favour after they took a 12th minute lead. Carlos Roca, always a thorn in Matlock’s side, crossed low from the left and Laurence Gaughan sliced into his own net.
The goalkeeper was then alert to tip away a teasing Roca cross before the unrelenting pressure told with a second United goal on 31 minutes.
Again Roca was involved with Kennedy parrying his low cross drive but Matty Wolfenden was on hand to smack home the rebound to put FC firmly in control.
Manager Mark Atkins’ half time words, plus the introduction of Yates to the midfield in place of the ineffective Kris Bowler, proved to be a master stroke.
Suddenly Matlock had energy, life and spark in the midfield, and instead of retreating and being overrun in the middle, they themselves dominated.
The Gladiators halved their deficit just after the hour thanks to excellent play from Yates in a surge down the right.
He found Ian Holmes with a short, simple but highly effective pass and Town’s top scorer turned to crash in a shot which seemed to go through goalkeeper James Spencer. The ball dropped just over the line with Bettney following in to make sure.
Matlock’s pride was restored with their bright and energetic second half performance with the United faithful glad to have hung on. Unfortunately from the visitors’ viewpoint, they had left themselves too much to do by allowing FC to boss the opening half.
The defeat saw Matlock slip to 14th and FC jump to sixth. Having no game at the weekend is probably frustrating for them, given the rhythm they found in an outstanding second-half performance.
Matlock: Kennedy, Harcourt, Featherstone, King, Gaughan, Lukic, Davies (Nightingale 61), Bowler (Yates 46), Holmes, McMahon, Bettney (Algar 75). Other sub: Buxton.