Boss Phillips full of praise as Matlock win at title favourites South Shields

Paul Phillips gave glowing praise to his Matlock squad after the Gladiators came away from title favourites South Shields with a 1-0 victory.
Matlock Town boss Paul Phillips hailed his players after their win at South Shields.Matlock Town boss Paul Phillips hailed his players after their win at South Shields.
Matlock Town boss Paul Phillips hailed his players after their win at South Shields.

Alex Byrne’s 71st minute header did the trick on a day when every Gladiator played their part and when they had some good fortune that was missing in the unfortunate FA Cup defeat by Guiseley on Tuesday night.

“That performance showed just what this set of players are all about, there’s passion, desire, an unbelievable will to win, and their never say die attitude throughout the side, we’ve no big time charlies” said a proud Phillips.

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They certainly had to work hard for all of the points and they had a slice of good fortune on 13 minutes when Robert Briggs struck the outside of the post with a penalty after Adam Yates was adjudged to have brought down Jason Gilchrist.

The penalty miss was the first noteworthy action in a competitive opening and came when the Mariners were vying to gain a stranglehold on the match,

Jordan Hunter was prominent in breaks down the right, one of his crosses creating a corner which Matlock’s excellent defence cleared. Hunter then shot too high after Dillon Morse had supplied the ammunition before the visiting defence closed ranks again to charge down a shot from Josh Gillies.

Matlock lost Callum Dolan, who had come in for Osebi Abadaki in the one change to the starting line up from the Guiseley defeat, being helped off after finishing second best in a challenge in midfield. New signing Joe Bunney made his debut alongside Liam Hughes as Matlock had two strikers exceeding six feet in height playing in tandem.

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Another Hunter cross caused worry for Matlock who then were glad to see Alex Kempster’s header flash wide. Kempster then cut in from the left but skied his shot yards high and wide before Bunney had the ball in the hosts’ net but the offside flag was raised to quash any hopes of a dream start for the new boy. Hughes then glanced a Byrne free kick wide before the half time whistle.

Shields emerged for the second half keen to take the early initiative.

Shaun Rowley was called into action for the first time with a good save to keep out a twenty five yarder from Phil Turnbull. The Matlock goalkeeper was then equal to an effort from Briggs as the Mariners piled on the pressure. After Gilchrist nodded comfortably wide from Turnbull’s cross, Rowley was again in the thick of things, pushing away a teasing deflected effort from Josh Gillies.

When Matlock brought on Callum Chippendale for Reece Kendall after 64 minutes, it was a change of role for Bunney who moved from a striking position to left wing back.

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The pressure eased on the Matlock goal and remarkably they broke to score the decisive goal as Hughes fed Bunney on the left whose hanging cross was headed beyond Myles Boney by BYRNE. Just desserts for Byrne for an all action display both going forward and defensively.

Matlock’s joy was uncontrolled, now they had something to hold on to.

Shields made a couple of changes but substitute Abadaki might have brought them more reason to celebrate, his shot having the sting taken out of it leaving Boney with a relatively easy save when Abadaki was well placed.

Rowley tipped over a dipping effort from Hunter as Shields surged forward seeking a leveller.

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As the game entered stoppage time which lasted an agonising eight minutes for Matlock, Morse headed wide from a Cieran Jones cross with further headers from Gilchrist and Kempster suffering the same fate.

But Matlock resiliently saw the game out, their performance had not been pretty, but it was a highly effective one.

The penalty miss was a big help for them, but take nothing away from this Matlock side, they all battle for one another, there is a camaraderie and a team bond that looks unbreakable and it could take them a very long way. Having played with men short for large parts of Tuesday’s game, to respond in such a determined fashion after the setbacks they had that night was first class, especially against highly accomplished opponents in Shields who are a far better side than Guiseley.

The win saw them leapfrog Shields in the table with Matlock rising to fourth spot. Still very early days but cause for optimism.

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SOUTH SHIELDS: 1 Myles Boney 2 Jordan Hunter 3 Craig Baxter (12 Cieran Jones 78) 4 Callum Ross 5 Dillon Morse 6 Phil Turnbull 7 Josh Gillies (17 Will McCamley 70)8 Robert Briggs 9 Jason Gilchrist 10 Darius Osei 11 Alex Kempster Other subs: 14 Dom Agnew 15 Wouter Verstraaten 16 Will Jenkins

MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Shaun Rowley 2 Adam Yates 3 Reece Kendall (12 Callum Chippendale 64) 4 Sam Egerton 5 Ryan Qualter 6 Mark Lees 7 Alex Byrne 8 Spencer Harris (15 Osebi Abadaki 78) 9 Liam Hughes 10 Callum Dolan (16 Joe Bunney 27) 11 Declan Walker Other subs: 14 Craig King 17 Cesaire Lingouba

REFEREE: Glen Hart (Darlington) ATTENDANCE: 300 BEST GLADIATOR: Alex Byrne