Matlock Town 3-1 Farsley FC – Doodson Cup QF.
Matlock’s quest for success in two cup competitions gained pace with victory in a bruising Doodson Sport League Cup quarter final clash at the Reynolds Stadium on Tuesday night.
But victory not for the first time came at a cost with Matlock suffering a catalogue of injuries, none worse than the thigh injury to top scorer Lewis McMahon in his first start back after an ankle injury sustained seven weeks ago. McMahon was helped off after a XX challenge from Matt Dempsey which inexplicably brought the Farsley full back just a yellow card when a sending off looked to be the only decision available to Leicester referee Geoff Law.
Farsley displayed thuggish behaviour which made the crime count of Matlock having two yellow cards to the Yorkshire side’s three laughable if it wasn’t so serious!
Their evening of shame began with constant chelping at the official throughout the first half, and once they realised a weak referee would let them get away with almost anything, they exploited it to the full.
Gladiators boss Mark Atkins had told his players at the interval when they held a two goal lead that the only way they could lose the tie was to give in to the physicality from Farsley that was almost certain to follow. Thankfully they didn’t, and bully boy tactics didn’t win, but it did affect the hosts’ performance.
With Massiah McDonald and McMahon together for the first time in what appeared to be ages, and Ben Algar also starting, Matlock looked a far more potent attacking force.
The duo combined early on when McMahon fed McDonald on the left and received the return ball which he chipped a couple of yards wide in the 8th minute.
But Matlock then took a firm grip on the tie netting twice in seven minutes.
Midfielder JAMES ASHMORE got the show on the road with a wonderfully constructed 12th minute goal. Laurence Gaughan, deputising for the cup tied Lee Featherstone at left back, guided a slide rule pass to McMahon who swiftly spotted the surging run by Ashmore who fired accurately into the far corner from twelve yards.
A rare slip from James Lukic nearly gave Adam Priestley an instant leveller, causing Town custodian distress and a visit from stand in physio Dave Rushbury as the Matlock number one bravely denied the Farsley forward.
But it was soon two-nil when from a free kick on the right, a powerful header from McMAHON rocketed over goalkeeper Tom Morgan. Then on 29 minutes a header from Gaughan flashed narrowly off target.
With Gareth Davies imperious in midfield alongside the energetic and hard working Ashmore and Martin Foster, Matlock looked set for more goals but had to settle for just the two before the half time refreshments, but they had to be mindful particularly of the threat from experienced striker Gareth Grant.
Farsley pushed Matlock back when the game resumed, the hosts making important blocks and interceptions before Foster collided with Steve Mallory to receive the opening caution.
Then all hell could have broken loose as players confronted each other after Dempsey’s potential career ending challenge on McMahon and an uneasy atmosphere prevailed for the rest of the night. How could Foster’s and Dempsey’s challenges be deemed equally dangerous?
McMahon’s departure gave a debut to substitute Geoffrey Gouveia ten minutes into the half and by the 58 minute mark, the Gladiators had one huge foot in the last four. Davies did well to lay a short pass out to the supporting Ashmore on the right whose inviting cross gave the unmarked McDONALD the chance to register his 16th goal in 28 Matlock appearances with a bullet header from six yards. Almost immediately a twenty five yarder from Davies drifted wide.
But Farsley found a route back five minutes later thanks to over elaboration from the otherwise excellent Gaughan, who was robbed by GRANT ten yards inside the Gladiators half. The Farsley number ten broke diagonally and beat Kennedy with a crisp left foot finish from the edge of the box to give the First Division North side hope.
Gouveia was within a whisker of a dream start, the Portuguese midfielder’s shot being deflected inches wide but it then took fine goalkeeping by Kennedy to keep out a deflected long range strike from Mallory and then the same player’s header from the resulting clearance which then saw Yates hack clear to maintain the two goal cushion.
Conflict, off and on the ball flare ups continued which saw cautions for Davies and the Leeds side’s Mallory and Simeon Bambrook, the Farsley number three literally giving Davies a forearm smash more suited to WWE wrestling than football!
Matlock sensibly played out time, unashamedly retaining possession near the corner flags, to see the game through and continue their recent excellent cup form.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Laurence Gaughan 4 Martin Foster 5 Adam Yates 6 James Lukic 7 Gareth Davies 8 James Ashmore 9 Massiah McDonald 10 Lewis McMahon (14 Geoffrey Gouveia 55), 11 Ben Algar Subs not used: 12 Will Dennis 15 James Travis 17 Nick Buxton
FARSLEY FC: 1 Tom Morgan 2 Matt Dempsey 3 Simeon Bambrook 4 Rob O’Brien 5 James Riley 6 Rob Etherington (12 Matty James 55) 7 Adam Priestley 8 Brice Tiani (14 Chris Walton 27) 9 Steve Mallory 10 Gareth Grant 11 Ryan Harrison Subs not used: 15 Owen Davies 17 Ben Higginson.
REFEREE: G Law (Leicester) ATTENDANCE: 126 STAR GLADIATOR: Gareth Davies.