Matlock Town 3, Frickley Athletic 1
“Can we play you every week” was the shout from a happy and relieved Matlock camp as they responded to three successive defeats with a hard-fought victory and a league double over Frickley at the Reynolds Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Gladiators only other league win in their opening five games had come at the Tech 5 Stadium a fortnight ago, and with Frickley below them with just a point to show for their endeavours, this was a massive win for the hosts.
But it was Frickley who were the more dangerous in a tension filled first period. The Yorkshiremen failed to make their pressure count as Matlock defended with purpose and organisation, skipper James Lukic and Adam Yates proved to be an immovable barrier.
The bonus came when Lewis McMahon shot them in front two minutes from the half time whistle which gave them confidence to look more threatening in the second half.
Joe Leesley, who replaced experienced Lee Ellington in the starting 11, rammed in a second on 65 and although Glyn Cotton halved the deficit two minutes later, Matlock secured three priceless points with McMahon’s second goal 12 minutes from the end.
Out of the blue came a wonder goal from McMahon, who curled in a peach of a shot from 25 yards out on the left after Richards’ run was blocked and the ball ran loose.
Leesley brought the crowd to their feet in the 65th minute with a smart turn and a stunning low left foot strike which sped past a well beaten Woodhead.
Cotton smacked in a corker from 22 yards past Kennedy’s left hand and into the top corner to give Frickley hope and set home nerves jangling but McMahon snuffed out the chance of a Frickley comeback. Woodhead failed to hold a Leesley shot and the Town number ten gratefully snapped up the gift he was offered by finishing from close range.
There is still plenty of hard work ahead for Matlock. But the Gladiators showed a determination that had been lacking in earlier games and a togetherness to fight for the cause in difficult stages of the game. That must continue.
Matlock: Kennedy, Laight, Roe, Foster, Yates, Lukic, Richards, Leesley (Featherstone 79), Joynes (Ellington 63), McMahon, Deakin. Other subs: Hindley, Buxton.
Star man: James Lukic.