Matlock Town 3-1 King’s Lynn Town
Matlock completed the Great Escape in style, this comfortable and fully deserved win seeing them win their relegation battle with a game to spare.
This, quite, simply, did not look possible in the dark days of early January but the acquisition of Mark Hume as manager looks to have been a master stroke by the Gladiators officials.
Hume always maintained Matlock could survive, and his confidence has been repaid by the shrewd signings he has made that make the Gladiators look like a team again and not a bunch of individuals thrown together in hope more than expectation.
They were without Otis Khan for their final home game of the campaign, the Pakistani international was nursing a groin injury, so Liam Needham was back in the starting eleven in the one change made by Hume after the grueling goalless draw at Blyth in midweek.
Lynn began the day still not certain of their Premier Division status, having a one point advantage over Matlock and they made a positive start.
Julian Banton sliced a couple of clearances and Lynn forced two early corners, Henry Eze heading wide from the second one.
But Banton never put a foot wrong after that and he earned his wages at the other end in the 11th minute. Ted Cribley, highly influential throughout. floated in a free kick from the right and BANTON flung himself at the ball to power a tremendous header beyond Linnets stopper Alex Street.
The huge roar from the stands said it all and there was nearly more trouble for the Norfolk side soon afterwards as Niall McManus broke down the left and Street did well to cut out the cross bound for Danny Holland. Then Jamie McDonagh latched on to a fine Cribley pass but fired wide.
Then came the shock of a Lynn equalizer on 21 minutes with Matlock only having themselves to blame in allowing an unmarked LEE STEVENSON too much space from a corner and the loanee from Alfreton Town drove home.
But Matlock’s response was positive and a brittle Lynn defence was opened up quite brilliantly as Matlock regained their lead with a deliciously worked goal on 33 minutes. Cribley was again the instigator, finding McDonagh with a peach of a pass down the right. McDonagh kept his head to clinically find HOLLAND whose flick goalwards was helped over the line by a defender, but the Town skipper would be claiming his 103rd Matlock goal.
Adam Yates headed wide from a corner as Matlock maintained the pressure sand McDonagh broke through down the inside right channel as the interval approached but fired over as Street came out to meet him.
Eager to get the job done, the Gladiators were out for the second half a good three minutes before the visitors and within a further eight minutes, the destination of the points was virtually decided.
Again it came from a break down the right and this time it was Micky Harcourt crossing with pin point accuracy for McDonagh to glance a header towards goal with MCMANUS tapping the ball home into the bottom left hand corner.
Banton and Holland could have added to Lynn’s misery, the defender heading wide from a corner and Holland shooting powerfully inches past the post after a neat, controlled build up, again from the right.
Then McDonagh was mysteriously flagged offside as he burst through the heart of the defence in a solo run as Matlock looked a confident and well drilled unit.
There was though, a potential lifeline for the Linnets when Jake Jones was brought down by the trailing leg of Yates but Stevenson’s 78th minute penalty was simply awful. It was still rising as it rebounded off the stand behind the Town End goal.
Had the spot kick been converted, it might have led to a nervous ending for Matlock but any fight Lynn still might have had visibly drained from them and it was Matlock still looking for further goals before the final whistle.
Now the pressure is off Matlock can approach the Derbyshire Senior Cup Final and next season with confidence. Thanks to Hume and his helpers, it turned out alright in the end.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Oscar Radford 4 Liam Needham 5 Adam Yates 6 Julian Banton 7 Ted Cribley 8 Nicky Travis 9 Jamie McDonagh 10 Danny Holland (15 Muhammed Sabo 75), 11 Niall McManus Other subs: 12 Scott Maxfield 14 Grant Black 16 Josh Meade 17 Liam Gaughan
KING’s LYNN TOWN: 1 Alexander Street 2 Ross Watson 3 Jordan Yong 4 Ryan Fryatt 5 Henry Eze (16 Jackson Ramm 46) 6 Conor Marshall 7 David Bell 8 Dan Quigley (12 Michael Frew 80) 9 Sam Mulready (15 Jacek Zielonka 63) 10 Lee Stevenson 11 Jake Jones Other subs: 14 Stephen Spriggs 17 Shaun Stocker
REFEREE: Nick Hobbis (Birmingham) ATTENDANCE: 321 BEST GLADIATOR: Ted Cribley