REPORT: Matlock Town 3-1 Sutton Coldfield Town
Matlock hit a purple patch scoring three in 11 second-half minutes to overturn a deficit and earn their first victory of the season at the DCJ Group Insurance Arena on Tuesday.
Luke Rodgers had put Sutton Coldfield ahead on ten minutes to stun a home crowd that was needing a reaction after Saturday’s home thumping by Nantwich.
A golden chance to level passed Matlock by ten minutes into the second-half when Royals goalkeeper James Wren saved Laurie Wilson’s spot kick, but it all came right with substitute Marc Newsham, Michael Williams and new loan signing Marcus Dinanga finding the net as the Gladiators at last brimmed with confidence.
In fact Matlock had two new signings starting in attack with former Luton Town striker Arel Amu partnering Dinanga with bosses Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins desperate for Matlock to find their scoring boots with only one goal in the opponents net from their first three matches.
But the hosts started unconvincingly and conceded a poor opening goal when Rodgers ran on to a routine central through pass to fire past Arran Jameson with Matlock’s defenders stood looking at one another.
Two free-kicks in quick succession came to nothing before a Williams shot was fielded by Wren at his near post.
But in spite of having more of the possession, Matlock could not find the magic touch although the outlook got a little brighter as the half wore on.
Wilson curled a free-kick narrowly too high before a neat combination from the two striking new boys ended with Amu firing across the face of the goal. Then a probing run from the left by Ted Cribley resulted in a low strike towards the far post which Wren scrambled away diving to his left.
Matlock began the second half with more attacks, Anthony Griffith-Junior delaying his shot and losing the chance to test Wren before Amu stabbed a Cribley centre wide at the near post.
Cribley created havoc in a weaving run which brought about the penalty as a rash tackle by Kyle Rowley sent him crashing to the turf but although skipper Wilson’s penalty was well struck, it was at a convenient height for Wren to block and leave home fans wondering where an equaliser would come from.
Apart from their goal, Sutton managed only one more on target attempt, Jameson needing to drop on the loose ball after he had initially blocked a long range free-kick from George Washbourne.
Two quick substitutions would turn the game emphatically in Matlock’s favour as Niall McManus and then Newsham came on for Griffith-Junior and Amu.
Newsham had only been on the field for three minutes when he deftly flicked a McManus cross past Wren for a 66th minute leveller.
Sutton had barely recovered from that setback before they conceded again, McManus this time finding Williams at the far post for the former Ilkeston schemer to head back across goal and inside the opposite upright.
It should have been three by the 72nd minute as Matlock, now playing by far their best football of the season, cut through the Sutton defence like a knife through butter, and Newsham, latching on to Cribley’s pass, clipped his shot over the bar when he seemed certain to net.
But Newsham would play a key part in the match clincher on 77 minutes, heading down Wilson’s free kick for Dinanga to cap a good debut with a calm finish from eight yards.
Having not looked like scoring earlier, the transformation was incredible with Matlock looking likely to score every time they went forward, the crowd also having been lifted.
Wren helped another Newsham strike wide as it felt that the win that would be soon confirmed had taken a massive weight off the players’ shoulders.
Matlock: Jameson, Marsden, Wiley, Wilson, Yates, de Girolamo, Griffith-Jnr (McManus 59), Williams, Amu (Newsham 63), Dinanga (Green 89), Cribley. Other subs: Todd, Travis.
Ref: James Bell (Sheffield)
Best Gladiator: Ted Cribley