Gladiators share the spoils after top display
Danny Holland gave Matlock a deserved interval lead against title contenders AFC Fylde, but the Coasters got a fortunate break five minutes into the second half to level through Andy Russell.
So the Gladiators had to be content with just a point on Saturday, having played some of their best football as they dominated the opening half.
The equaliser gave Fylde a lift with the remainder of the match being more evenly contested.
Matlock boss Mark Atkins, who was awarded the Premier Division Fair Play Award for October, said: “We played very well against a very good side and we’re disappointed to only have the one point. But looking at the bigger picture, it showed that we can compete against the top sides.”
Holland might have struck inside the opening minute as he latched on to a pass through the heart of the Fylde defence, but he knocked his shot wide.
Fylde’s response in the third minute was a shot pulled across the face of goal by Danny Lloyd and former Gladiator Harry Winter nodded a Bradley Barnes cross well wide on the stroke of half-time. Matlock put together exquisite passing which was greatly appreciated by the 343 crowd.
Matlock’s pressure was rewarded with a superbly worked 38th minute goal. Lewis McMahon and captain Liam Needham were the architects, linking on the left before Needham released Holland to fire into the corner.
After the restart, Holland broke clear only for the offside flag to deny him.
His clearance from a free kick cannoned off Adam Yates and set up nicely for Fylde’s Andy Russell to equalise from close range. Adam Sumner’s diagonal effort passed the far upright with twenty minutes left but Matlock also had opportunities to win it.