Matlock Town 2-2 Alfreton Town
There was plenty of positives for Mark Atkins and Matlock fans to take from a good 2-2 draw with Conference Premier neighbours Alfreton on a baking hot Friday night at the Reynolds Stadium.
The Reds looked well in charge up to the interval and would probably have been disappointed not to have held more than a slender one goal advantage from Paul Clayton’s 33rd minute strike but the Gladiators wasted no time after” then the restart after the restart to equalise through a trademark Lewis McMahon penalty and although Ben Tomlinson soon put the visitors back in front, Danny Holland levelled with seventeen minutes left.
Matlock needed to show tremendous resilience during the opening half which was mostly Alfreton asking the questions and David Haggerty showed that he looks to be a very astute signing, being a tower of strength alongside Adam Yates in central defence.
Atkins sprung a surprise in naming Joe Leesley at left back. That or left midfield was Leesley’s position before he went on trial to Bradford City a year ago and on the evidence of this performance, he could well make the number three shirt his own. He defended well and in the intense heat was a bundle of energy up and down the left flank, crossing well at the end of those surges.
Corey Gregory should be an asset in midfield, especially alongside Anton Foster whose introduction at half time ignited the Matlock performance.
Jon Kennedy has returned looking leaner, and the goalkeeper was soon in action tipping away a fiercely struck Kristian Ramsay-Dickson drive in the 3rd minute. Shortly afterwards Leesley’s first attacking foray saw him cross for Holland to knock narrowly off target.
But it was mainly Matlock defending and doing so well, although the Reds were creating promising openings. A probing 15th minute run from Danny Meadows ended with a tame effort at Kennedy who then tipped away an excellent twenty yard volley by Clayton. Midfielder Tom Shaw shot inches too high before the pressure told when Conor Franklin met a fine diagonal passto cross instantly for CLAYTON to tuck a clever finish beyond Kennedy.
Nick Fenton was yards wide with a header from Josh Law’s miscued shot before Haggerty’s brilliant block stopped Shaw’s goalbound shot from doubling Alfreton’s lead.
McMahon’s twenty five yarder was well fielded by Ross Atkins at the other end, the on loan Derby goalkeeper being a touch fortunate to escape conceding a penalty when Gregory was impeded in a mix-up with Fenton.
Both sides made changes and Matlock’s came off when substitute Foster was brought down by Fenton and McMAHON did the rest from twelve yards.
Almost instantly Matlock might have gone in front when Holland in the clear saw Atkins comfortably save his low shot.
BEN TOMLINSON was less charitable finishing neatly to give Alfreton the lead for the second time and it needed a fine diving save by Kennedy to prevent Aaron Webster from making it three.
But Matlock did not lie down and Foster again was prominent, energetically breaking down the right to feed Gregory whose scuffed shot was turned in by HOLLAND.
Both sides searched for a winner in an entertaining game with Matlock coming closest as Leesley cut in from the right to shoot powerfully but inches too high.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Will Dennis 3 Joe Leesley 4 Josh Scully 5 David Haggerty 6 Adam Yates 7 Corey Gregory8 James Ashmore 9 Danny Holland 10 Lewis McMahon 11 Lavelle White. Subs used: Anton Foster, Liam Gaughan, Oscar Radford, Anthony Griffiths-Junior,Matty Wilkinson, Jordan Snodin
REFEREE: N Hopton (Derby) ATTENDANCE: 228