North Ferriby United 2
Matlock Town 1
Matlock deserved at least a draw from a good performance in which they were the better side over the course of the game.
Had they taken their early chances, Ferriby would have been dead and buried with the ball not going in more to bad luck than poor finishing.
While the result was disappointing, the performance most certainly wasn’t, there was good build up play, aggression and resolve and certainly if they can continue in the same vein, points will be accrued.
Oscar Radford, signed from Kettering on Friday, was back in the Gladiators line up following his loan spell last term.
He partnered James Lukic in central defence with Micky Harcourt recalled at right back after injury.
Glyn Cotton was passed fit to start on the left of midfield while the substitutes bench was made up solely of attacking players, save for number two goalkeeper Nick Buxton.
New signing Jordan Thewlis was one of the attacking quartet. The hosts included former Gladiators Liam King and Ben Hunter.
Matlock started like an express train to completely dominate the opening exchanges.
Massiah McDonald would again prove to be a handful and a purposeful run up the right produced a first minute corner from which skipper James Lukic saw his header drop narrowly too high.
Then a slide rule pass by Harcourt saw McDonald outstrip Mark Gray with goalkeeper Adam Nicklin blocking the Matlock number nine’s power packed shot.
Lewis McMahon appeared to be held back by Nicklin but penalty appeals fell on deaf ears. Still with only seven minutes on the clock a Cotton shot from the edge of the box rebounded off the underside of the bar with Nicklin well beaten.
A glancing McMahon header from a Harcourt cross to the near post skidded inches wide of the opposite upright. Matlock needed one of these opportunities to go in.
At the other end Matlock were coping comfortably with the few things they were asked to deal with, and there was a half chance for McMahon on 17 minutes when he showed classy control to pull down a headed clearance before turning and volleying over the bar.
Ferriby’s first threat came soon afterwards when Steve Gardner released Gary Bradshaw on the right, the prolific marksman fired fiercely across the face of the goal.
Then as the hosts gained a foothold, Lukic was forced to head a Bradhaw cross over his own bar.
But Bradshaw would put Ferriby in front against the run of play on 32 minutes. An off-target shot somehow ricocheted into Bradshaw’s path and the pint-sized striker made no mistake firing past Kennedy from 15 yards.
King went down with a head injury which required a shirt change and a bandage. Bradhaw ran on to a flick on from Nicklin’s long punt to shoot wide and just before the interval Kennedy pushed away a shot from King.
There was a blow for the Gladiators early in the second half when Radford was forced off with a neck injury. Adam Yates reverting to a central defensive role and Kane Richards attacking down the right flank with matt Hamshaw moved inside.
Matlock were unlucky not to equalise on 59 minutes when McDonald cut in from the left and Nicklin pushed away the stinging drive at full stretch.
Jack Muldoon headed a cross from the right over the bar at the other end. The game was on a knife edge and Ferriby got what looked to be extra comfort when Yates was ruled to have fouled Bradshaw with 19 minutes remaining.
Ryan Kendall scored from the spot to double the lead, but within two minutes the spirited Gladiators were right back in it.
Again McDonald was prominent, shrugging off two defenders in a strong run on the edge of the box. He found Joe Leesley with a short pass and the young substitute did the rest threading a daisy cutter under Nicklin to set up a grandstand finish.
McDonald had two successive goalbound shots blocked and McMahon saw his header saved on the line by Nicklin as Matlock went in search of a well deserved equaliser.
But Ferriby held out with King admitting afterwards they were fortunate winners against his old club. Bradshaw was sent off for two bookable offences in the dying seconds by an over fussy referee.
MATLOCK: Kennedy, Harcourt, Featherstone, Foster, Radford (Richards 53), Lukic, Hamshaw (Thewlis 72), Yates, McDonald, McMahon, Cotton (Leesley 72). Subs not used: Tuton, Buxton.
Referee: G Mellor
Star man: McDonald (Matlock)