Chorley 3-1 Matlock Town
Sometimes it’s a case of holding hands up and admitting the better side won.
This was the case for away fans at Victory Park on Bonfire Night as the fireworks came from Chorley who completed a league double over Matlock and look a good bet to win the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division title.
From the Matlock perspective it wasn’t a case of performing badly, their play until the final third was pleasing on the eye before it broke down. There was the problem and it tends to sort the winners from the also-rans.
Matlock have to visit Victory Park in the FA Trophy on Saturday week, it looks to be a daunting task and they will go there as underdogs, but possibly with some optimism.
In glimpses there was hope for the Gladiators and Matlock will and must cling on to that.
Manager Mark Atkins included Oscar Radford on the left of the midfield four and pushed Lavell White alongside Danny Holland in central attack to add some pace with Lewis McMahon left on the bench as leading scorer Daryl Thomas was again absent through injury. And Bonfire Night began brightly for the visitors before they were struck by a rocket more loud than any of those surrounding the ground when Chorley took an 8th minute lead.
JAKE COTTERILL blasted a superb strike into the opposite corner after a cross from the right looked to have been overhit. Shortly afterwards Josh Hine struck the bar from thirty yards out as the Magpies looked set to continue the form which had seen them presented with the Premier Division Club Of the Month Award for September by League Vice Chairman and Matlock Chief Executive Keith Brown prior to the kick off.
Jon Kennedy then saved at Darren Stephenson’s feet and at this stage a long night looked in store for the visitors.
But Matlock deserve credit for their resolve to stem the tide and then play some attractive football through their midfield. Penetration though was the stumbling block as home captain Andy Teague with partner Keil O’Brien shut up shop at the heart of the heart of the home defence.
It took 35 minutes for Matlock to make any serious inroads, then White’s shot was deflected kindly to make goalkeeper Sam Ashton’s job easier.
The night though took a distinct turn for the worse for Matlock in the opening sixteen minutes of the second half.
Chorley piled on the pressure and after Kennedy had bundled away Stephenson’s low effort, JAMES DEAN was on hand to slot home the loose ball on 52 minutes. Then nine minutes later from a left wing corner TEAGUE barged through to convert with aplomb and Matlock were facing a battering.
But to their credit, Matlock dug in deep, repelling any further Chorley threat and after knocking on the door of the home basck four, reward came when substitute BRAD GRAYSON drove beyond Ashton after a neat combination with McMahon. But with tewo minutes left, this was a mere consolation. Then another substitute Corey Gregvory headed a Micky Harcourt cross too high when well placed at the back post.
Chorley looked every bit champions and Matlock will be hoping to bounce back against another title contender in AFC Fylde at the Reynolds Stadium on Saturday.
CHORLEY: 1 Sam Ashton 2 Kieran Walmsley 3 Adam Mather 4 Andy Teague 5 Keil O’Brien 6 Adam Roscoe 7 Josh Hine (15 Simon Wiles 61) 8 Paul Woolcott 9 James Dean (17 Brandon Zibaka 83) 10 Darren Stephenson 11 Jake Cotterell Other subs: 12 Mark Ross 14 Aaron Grundy 16 Alex Meaney
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Joe Leesley (12 Lewis McMahon 58) 4 Martin Foster 5 David Haggerty 6 Adam Yates 7 Liam Needham 8 James Ashmore 9 Danny Holland (14 Bradley Grayson 62) 10 Oscar Radford 11 Lavell White (15 Corey Gregory 71)
Other subs: 17 Matty Leese
REFEREE: P Mahon (Warrington) ATTENDANCE: 595 BEST GLADIATOR: Adam Yates