MATLOCK TOWN 2-0 STAMFORD
A quick fire double from Danny Holland early in the second period secured three precious points for Matlock after a first half of frustration at the Reynolds Stadium.
It settled the Gladiators down after there were fears of Stamford shutting them out just as Frickley Athletic had done at the weekend, but on Tuesday Matlock looked far more businesslike and once they had given the Daniels the double whammy, there was only going to be one winner.
Manager Mark Atkins made three changes to the starting line up as Anton Foster and Adam Yates made their first starts of the campaign in place of the injured Lewis McMahon and James Ashmore while Lavelle White was back in the starting line up as Martin Foster dropped to the bench.
Town forced two early corners and Holland saw a shot cleared in a scramble following fine approach play by Liam Needham and Darryl Thomas but Stamford looked lively early on too and Jon Kennedy was off the mark swiftly to dive at Ryan Robbins feet in the 11th minute.
But The Daniels stopper Alex Lynch was always the busier although he was beaten when a Thomas cross from the left struck the woodwork. Oscar Radford went for the spectacular, driving mercilessly forward from deep to see a forty yard piledriver whistle inches too high in the 23rd minute. Two minutes afterwards White drew generous applause after cutting in from the right and forcing Lynch to tip his shot around a post.
Needham was a colossus in midfield for Matlock, winning his tackles ferociously but fairly and distributing the ball efficiently. Lynch saved Stamford again as he brilliantly kept out Needham’s strike and then Micky Harcourt scampered down the right to pull back a cross which was behind all of the supporting Matlock attackers. As half time approached Needham shot wide and Yates forced Lynch to extend himself once more as he looked certain to score. But Stamford had the last attack as Robbins nodded Shaun Richards’ cross over under pressure from Radford.
Stamford enjoyed some early possession after the break as David Haggerty’s mistimed challenge on Robbins earned him a booking. The free kick from Alan Jarvis was high and hopelessly wide before a cross drive from Richards beat Kennedy’s back post.
But HOLLAND broke the deadlock eleven minutes into the half as he chased a Haggerty pass to poke the ball past both Lynch and a defender before forcing the ball home, the sign of a goal poacher. Stamford had scarcely recovered when Matlock’s number nine struck again, this time it was a gem of a goal. Thomas released Harcourt on the right to bomb forward and look up to feed HOLLAND who slid an inch perfect cross home. Incredibly Holland might have completed a five minute hat-trick, latching on to Yates’ pass to chip delicately over Lynch but a foot over the bar.
Matlock could so easily have increased their tally as a goal bound White effort struck Thomas who then glanced wide before firing wide by just a whisker.
Holland, doubtful with groin trouble, was sensibly withdrawn and left the arena to loud applause, before Haggerty was intelligently found by Harcourt’s clever free kick only to plant a free header at Lynch.
The nearest the Lincolnshire men came to a consolation was when Kennedy blocked a Robbins’ strike on 71 minutes at the expense of a fruitless corner.
This was Matlock’s fourth successive clean sheet which was well deserved for they defended smartly as a unit when Stamford threatened, hunting in packs for possession with Needham leading by example. Stamford, who had skipper Richard Jones booked for bringing down Thomas with fifteen minutes left, can have few complaints with the outcome. Quite simply the stronger and better team won on the night.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Joe Leesley 4 Anton Foster (Lee Featherstone 81) 5 David Haggerty 6 Oscar Radford 7 Liam Needham 8 Adam Yates 9 Danny Holland (12 Martin Foster 69) 10 Darryl Thomas 11 Lavelle White (16 Dave Edge 90) Other subs: 15 Will Dennis 17 Matty Leese
STAMFORD: 1 Alex Lynch 2 Luke Blakeley 3 Liam Richardson (15 Andrew Burgess 59) 4 Alan Jarvis 5 Richard Jones 6 Ashley Robinson 7 Shaun Richards 8 Jon Challinor (12 Daniel Lawlor 75) 9 Jordan Smith 10 Richard Wesley 11 Ryan Robbins. Other subs: 14 Ben Barton 16 David Staff
REFEREE: Mr M Jones (Stafford) ATTENDANCE: 271 BEST GLADIATOR: Liam Needham