CHORLEY 1-0 MATLOCK TOWN
A late wonder goal from Chorley substitute Proya Ahmadi consigned the Gladiators to an unlucky and narrow defeat in a tight, tense and sometimes irritating clash at Victory Park.
AHMADI struck in the 88th minute in a spell of late pressure when he turned and twisted on the edge of the box before curling an excellent twenty yarder out of the reach of goalkeeper Jon Kennedy and into the top corner. While it was a goal worthy of winning any game at any level, it was harsh on a depleted Matlock who gave absolutely everything and were victims of some refereeing howlers during the contest, the official being too easily influenced by a hostile home crowd.
The fact that the Gladiators could only name three substitutes, including Ben Algar, who has jut thirty minutes of football all season due to injury, tells its own story. The starting eleven virtually picked itself with first team regulars James Lukic, Oscar Radford, Lewis McMahon and Anthony Griffiths-Junior all missing through injury as was fringe player Will Dennis, while Micky Harcourt was completing his three match ban.
Chorley made a bright start as Darren Stephenson got the better of Adam Yates but the excellent Laurence Gaughan was there to mop up behind him. Matlock responded with Massiah McDonald firing wide after being supplied by Bradley Grayson who worked tirelessly as McDonald’s striking partner.
Yates rescued Matlock with a tremendous acrobatic goal-line clearance from Tom Ince in the 7th minute before jon Kennedy was able to comfortably hold a strike from Cameron Darkwah.
But Matlock were bright and breezy in response, the only fault from their totally committed performance being that they were unable to test home goalkeeper Jack Cudworth as often as they would really have wished.
Joe Leesley shot wide before crossing to the near post where Lavell White tucked his shot behind. Two successive Matlock corners had the hosts worried with Grayson nearly profitting from the first one.
Then on 22 minutes came a major flashpoint as Andy Russell went in on McDonald with a cynical two footed lunge from behind which caused a melee involving most of the outfield players. Russell inexplicably escaped a card of either colour, it should have been a red, from hapless referee Gary Chapman, who instead booked both the hosts’ Andy Taegue and Gaughan for the “afters”.
As the game settled down again, Keil O’Brien headed well wide before Matlock’s best chance of the half came on 35 minutes as Leesley robbed full back Ashley Parillion but a slight delay on Leesley’s part proved costly as the full back recovered to divert his goalbound shot for a corner.
Kennedy saw a long range strike from Tom Baker late and did well to keep the ball out before the half ended with a solo run from McDonald but Cudworth gathered the shot.
Chorley were handed an opportunity to go in front early in the second half when Martin Foster was fouled in midfield but again the referee astonished everyone in blue by allowing play to continue, Kennedy having to be alert to take the ball cleanly off Darkwah’s toes.
Matlock then had a decent spell themselves forcing three quick corners which the Magpies defended well and as Chorley broke Leesley could have no complaints for a booking after a mistimed challenge on Adam Roscoe.
Yates though was pulled up for a challenge on the edge of the box on Ahmadi where he clearly won the ball but Roscoe curled the free kick wide. Manager Mark Atkins’ increasing frustration at the official saw him spoken to for a second time.
White and Leesley were off target as Matlock gave as good as they got and after Gaughan had magnificently blocked a powerful Roscoe strike, Matlock broke to the other end to win an 80th minute free kick from which Leesley struck the top of the bar.
A promising build up ended with James Ashmore snatching at his shot which drifted yards wide before a late Chorley assault ultimately brought its reward. Kennedy had pushed out a twenty yarder from Russell but Chorley came again and Ahmadi netted that glorious winner which also brought him a yellow card for removing his shirt in celebration.
It was heartbreaking for a gallant Matlock side whose bravery and guts shone through when the chips were down.
CHORLEY: 1 Jack Cudworth 2 Ashley Parillion 3 Andy Russell 4 Andy Teague (capt) 5 Keil O’Brien 6 Dale Whitham 7 Adam Roscoe 8 Tom Baker 9 Cameron Darkwah (12 John Cunliffe 82) 10 Darren Stephenson (15 Proya Ahmadi 57) 11 Tom Ince subs not used: 14 Steve Flitcroft 16 Keiran Walmsley 17 Tom Walker
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Gareth Davies 3 Lee Featherstone 4 Martin Foster(capt) 5 Adam Yates 6 Laurence Gaughan 7 Bradley Grayson 8 James Ashmore 9 Massiah McDonald 10 Joe Leesley 11 Lavell White. Subs-all not used: 12 Ryan Hindley 14 James Travis 15 Ben Algar
REFEREE: G I Chapman (Haworth) ATTENDANCE: 560 STAR GLADIATOR: Laurence Gaughan