Matlock Town 1-2 Leicester City X1 2
An entertaining night’s football saw a quick and skilful Leicester side emerge as narrow winners but Matlock deserved a draw at the very least from their best pre season performance so far.
The Gladiators played some delightful football at times and should have been in front by the interval after dominating the opening half. Then after the resumption although Leicester looked more dangerous, the hosts more than held their own when all three goals were scored.
Little was seen of Leicester as an attacking force in the opening half after a well struck 3rd minute cross shot from the right by Emmett Delfuenso flashed beyond the back post. Matlock quickly responded as Corey Gregory and Joe Leesley, the latter again a revelation at left back, combined sweetly down the left only for Darryl Thomas to see his shot blocked.
The Gladiators forced four successive corners, and from the third in the 6th minute, Danny Holland should really have given the Gladiators the lead but his close range effort was scrambled behind.
An offside flag against Thomas halted a confident and industrious Matlock side in full flow after Gregory had instigated the move. They showed the marked improvement required after the visit to Mickleover forty eight hours earlier.
Adam Yates was forced off with a dead leg before Anton Foster’s tremendous challenge on midfielder Ryan Watson led to him finding Holland who unselfishly released Thomas who forced a fantastic diving stop from goalkeeper Adam Smith low to his right.
Jon Kennedy comfortably held a long range attempt from Ben Marshall but it was soon Town threatening again as Holland’s intelligent forty five yarder, with Smith off his line, drifted wide.
Holland drove at Smith as the second half got under way but Leicester were soon in front with a simply created but beautifully executed strike in the 48th minute. A long punt forward by Smith saw HARRY PANAYIOTOU take instant control with his right foot and then a quick switch to his left for a controlled finish which drew deserved applause from the crowd.
A now more confident Foxes outfit attacked again with Kennedy punching away a fine drive by Marshall but a resilient Matlock stepped on the gas once again.
Smith fielded a deflected Gregory shot and as Matlock twice won dangerous free kicks in identical positions, Lewis McMahon who had replaced Thomas after the new signing had twisted an ankle, curled excellent attempts narrowly over the bar.
But the pressure was rewarded on 63 minutes when Leesley’s pass sent GREGORY bursting through the heart of City’s defence to lift a calm finish over Smith.
However parity lasted just three minutes as Matlock lost possession on the half way line as communication between McMahon and Martin Foster was lost. Leicester broke quickly and WATSON netted from the edge of the box, low into the corner past Kennedy’s left hand.
Marshall extended Kennedy again before on 73 minutes a great chance to level again came and went as from Gregory’spin point free kick an unmarked David Haggerty somehow lifted a four yard shot high on to the cricket field.
Lavelle White finished wildly too high after a gift presented to him by substitute Jamie Anton’s stray pass which was Town’s final chance with five minutes to go. By now Leicester were having their most assured spell of the contest as full time fitness told in the closing moments.
So much to be encouraged about on this showing from Matlock with just the nagging doubt of finishing the chances off which proved really to be their achilles heel on the night.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 James Ashmore 3 Joe Leesley 4 Martin Foster (16 Gareth Davies 71) 5 David Haggerty 6 Adam Yates (12 Oscar Radford 24) 7 Corey Gregory 8 Anton Foster 9 Danny Holland (15 Lavelle White 71) 10 Darryl Thomas (14 Lewis McMahon 51) 11 Liam Needham.
REFEREE: N Hopton (Derby) ATTENDANCE: 146