Gladiators stalwart Mick Tomlinson would have grinned as he looked down on the Autoworld Arena with a satisfying feeling when Matlock returned to winning ways and gained three precious points in Tuesday night’s six pointer.
The Matlock Town president passed away the day before and once the players and fans had observed an impeccable one minute’s silence in his memory, the lads on the field set about the job of bringing home the corn.
The Yorkshire visitors made a decent fight of it, but in the end Matlock might have easily won more convincingly.
A contrast in styles was soon apparent. Frickley’s up and at them direct style caused the Gladiators some anxiety early on and it required a smart block by Jon Kennedy from Gavin Allott in the tenth minute to keep his side level.
Some quick thinking from James Ashmore nearly led to Matlock finding the target ten minutes afterwards. His free-kick left Jason Stokes with just James Green to beat but his shot only found the side netting.
Matlock notched the opener on 29 minutes when Stokes and Ashmore combined for the former to play Danny Holland clear with a delightfully weighted pass which the hosts’ leading scorer sweetly lifted over Green.
A fierce Phil Roe drive whistled across goal before in a crazy moment of madness, Green tripped Harcourt when in possession to be booked and give away a penalty, but Holland’s effort lacked power and direction and Green saved himself a red face with a comfortable save.
Green would still be embarrassed, but not until after Matthew Young had rattled the Matlock crossbar with a stinging shot following a poor Oscar Radford clearance. That was immediately after the restart, and four minutes later Frickley were staring defeat in the face.
Green parried a Gregory shot towards Holland who pushed the loose ball against a post, Frickley hurriedly clearing their lines to concede a corner. Ashmore swung it in and under pressure from Radford, Green appeared to punch the ball into his own net.
Kennedy held another Young shot as Frickley applied pressure in a recovery bid. The Matlock number one followed this with the best save of the night, flinging himself to his right to beat away Allott’s power-packed effort.
Joe Leesley was moved up front from a withdrawn deeper role behind Holland and Stokes after the latter limped off with an ankle injury and Leesley suddenly found an extra couple of gears to earn star rating.
He ran Frickley ragged and having had two attempts charged down and a near post effort go over the bar, his 71st minute piledriver took the slightest of deflections as it flew just too high.
Frickley’s assistant boss James Dudgeon’s frustration then boiled over as he was removed from the dug out by referee Meredith.
Green raced off his line to hack clear from Corey Gregory before clawing out a Holland strike low to his left.
But Leesley deservedly got on the scoresheet as he and Holland broke clear. The youngster did not need his senior partner’s help though as he crashed his shot home under Green from the edge of the box.
It was a job well done by Matlock who did their President proud.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014:
Matlock: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Phil Roe 4 Adam Yates 5 David Haggerty (Lawrence Gorman 63) 6 Oscar Radford 7 Niall McManus 8 James Ashmore 9 Danny Holland 10 Joe Leesley 11 Jason Stokes (Corey Gregory 44). Subs not used: Josh Meade, Lavell White
Frickley: 1 James Green 2 Jacob Stannard 3 Macauley Parkinson 4 Max Leonard (Joe Davies 63) 5 John Cyrus 6 Simon Harrison 7 Bradley Riley 8 Matthew Young 9 Danny South 10 Gavin Allott (Jack Dean 85) 11 Luke Hinsley
Ref: Steven Meredith (Mansfield)
Star Man: Joe Leesley
Report by Ian Richardson.