Matlock Town 1-2 Chorley
For the second successive match Matlock lost to the new league leaders but the Gladiators gave a gallant display and were a little unlucky not to snatch a point at the end.
A strong and streetwise Magpies outfit look a good bet for a play-off place, if not the title,but Matlock showed great resilience,defending stubbornly and superbly and also fashioned a decent number of chances of their own.
The Gladiators welcomed back Micky Harcourt to their defence, the number two earning star rating for an almost faultless performance against tricky winger Paul Jarvis. In fact, Chorley had pace down both flanks as Josh Hine constantly tested Joe Leesley in dashes down the right that often caused problems for the Matlock defence.
Leesley’s underhit back pass on 9 minutes let in Hine but the Gladiators young player of last season was rescued by elder statesman Jon Kennedy who raced off his line to block Hine’s shot for the first of three quick corners.
Matlock survived this pressure and should have gone in front themselves four minutes later when Lewis McMahon played Darryl Thomas clear but the striker, off balance, poked his shot narrowly wide.
But Hine was soon back harrassing Matlock from the right and Harcourt’s tremendous interception from the winger’s cross probably saved a certain goal with James Dean waiting to convert.
Penalty appeals when the ball appeared to strike Magpies skipper Andy Teague on the hand were ignored before Hine again threatened, this time Kennedy holding his near post strike.
But Chorley drew first blood, bizarrely from a Matlock free kick twenty five yards from the visitors goal. McMahon tried to take it quickly but horribly misjudged his pass and Hine was away like a cheetah, sprinting virtually the full length of the park, before finding supporting midfielder JAKE COTTERELL to guide a measured eighteen yard finish beyond Kennedy.
The burly Dean got the better of Oscar Radford only to shoot timidly wide but within a minute his rocket of an effort flashed inches past Kennedy’s right hand post as Chorley looked to quickly double their lead.
The Lancashire side could and should have been reduced to ten men when Cotterell’s late studded challenge on Harcourt left the Matlock man writhing in agony. Baker staying on annoyed Town boss Mark Atkins who would be annoyed even further later as Baker grabbed Chorley’s winner.
Thomas was a bootlace away from finishing off a Gareth Davies cross, the resulting corner coming to nothing with Hine this time beating David Haggerty before forcing Kennedy into a good save as a competitive half came to a close.
Anthony Griffiths-Junior replaced Davies for the second half which began with further top class defending from Harcourt who cleared more danger from yet another Hine cross.
But Matlock levelled through THOMAS on 55 minutes, the striker latching on to an assist from Danny Holland to smash in his fifth goal of the season from eighteen yards with Chorley skipper Andy Teague culpable.
A 64th minute bust-up between McMahon and Chorley midfield general Tom Baker saw both men booked, with Matlock manager Mark Atkins feeling Baker should have been sent off for his violent conduct in the incident, a decision which would rile him more later on as Baker was Chorley’s matchwinner.Goalkeeper Sam Ashton held a James Ashmore free kick before Leesley became caution number four, bringing down ther irrepressible Hine in full flight.
The foul though would prove expensive as BAKER scored direct from the free kick with Kennedy probably expecting a left footed corner to the opposite side from Jarvis.
Matlock had sixteen minutes to save a point and they gave it a real go. Ashton flew to his right to palm away a fierce twenty five yarder from McMahon.But it plainly wasn’t McMahon’s night. Twice in five minutes of added time scuffed efforts stayed out, with Ashton grabbing one close range effort on the line and from a header by Haggerty who had been pushed into attack, Ashton had an easy save from a bad McMahon miskick.
Right at the death Teague headed narrowly over his own bar as Chorley held on to inflict Town’s first home defeat of the campaign.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Joe Leesley 4 Martin Foster 5 David Haggerty 6 Oscar Radford 7 Garth Davies (12 Anthony Griffiths-Junior 46) 8 James Ashmore 9 Danny Holland 10 Lewis McMahon 11 Darryl Thomas Subs not used: 14 Jordan Snodin 15 Will Dennis 16 Liam Gaughan 17 Matty Leese
CHORLEY: 1 Sam Ashton 2 Mark Ross 3 Adam Mather 4 Andy Teague 5 Keil O’Brien 6 Jake Cotterell 7 Josh Hine 8 Tom Baker 9 James Dean (14 Darren Stephenson 76) 10 Dale Whitham 11 Paul Jarvis Other subs: 12 Paul O’Neill 15 Jamie Vermiglio 16 Simon Wiles 17 Alex Meanley
REFEREE: Tom Bramall (KIllamarsh) ATTENDANCE: 282 BEST GLADIATOR: Micky Harcourt