Glossop North End 1-2 Matlock Town
Matlock battled through to the Derbyshire Senior Cup Final and a date with Gresley FC in an over physical and sometimes nasty contest at Surrey Street on Tuesday night.
The Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division visitors looked to be cruising at the interval as they held a two goal lead thanks to strikes from Jamie McDonagh and Niall McManus in two minutes in the final third of the opening period.
But Matlock lost their way somewhat after the break and a spectacular Kieran Lugsden shot halved the deficit on 65 minutes as the visitors’ earlier fluency disappeared.
The Gladiators victory was right for the football purist, as on this occasion it proved that the bully boys do not always come out on top. Referee Jim Thornhill had a nightmare of the game, at best he was ineffectual and at worst showing he had totally lost the plot as a succession of late Glossop challenges were allowed to go unpunished.
If booting players while the victim is prostrate on the ground is considered acceptable, then it really is time to take up another sport.
Manager Mark Hume made five changes to the starting line up which had been victorious at Marine three days previously. In came Adam Yates as skipper to partner Muhammed Sabo in central defence, Grant Black at full back in place of Micky Harcourt, Scott Maxfield replaced midfield general Liam Needham, while in attack Otis Khan and Danny Holland were rested to facilitate the inclusions of Corey Gregory and McDonagh.
Glossop, second in the North West Counties League and through to an FA Vase quarter final at Shaw Lane Aquaforce this weekend, made a promising start forcing a first minute corner but Town quickly responded when McManus found Gregory who turned neatly ten yards out but shot into goalkeeper Liam Higginbotham’s arms.
It was entertaining fare early on with no hint of the intimidation and provocation that would come Matlock’s way later.
McDonagh, showing plenty of pace set up another chance for Gregory on 17 minutes but again the finish was straight at Higginbotham.
Mr Thornhill’s strange night began three minutes later as a cross struck Kelvin Lugsden’s arm in the box, but a corner was awarded with the ball still a couple of feet in play! McDonagh was later in the half flagged offside direct from a throw!
Eddie Moran’s low cross from the left caused a brief scramble in the Matlock box and as Matlock broke away, Lee Blackshaw fouled Ted Cribley and then kicked the Gladiators midfielder in an act of petulance. He escaped any form of punishment.
Mr Thornhill eventually got one decision spot on as Danny White tripped McDonagh as he cut in from the right, the official pointing to the spot with McDONAGH dusting himself down to confidently fire home the 33rd minute penalty.
Glossop had scarcely recovered from that setback before they conceded again, the excellent Cribley delivering a precision pass through the heart of the North End back four for McMANUS to drive home with comfort.
Home skipper Dave Young then dragged McDonagh back having been beaten for pace and again Mr Thornhill’s leniency came to the fore.
Banton replaced Sabo for the second half which began with Young again not receiving a card of any colour for cynically bringing down McDonagh.
But Matlock now looked disjointed and Glossop sensed they might just have a chance of saving the game.
The Gladiators conceded ground alarmingly as the Hillmen began to dominate. The hosts had good players, it was such a pity then that they employed underhand tactics.
Cribley, nursing an injury, was withdrawn for Harcourt before within a minute came Glossop’s goal of hope. If it was intended it was a fabulous strike from LUGSDEN whose thirty yard blast from the left curled past Kennedy’s despairing dive to his left and just inside a post.
Now it was game on with Matlock clinging grimly to their now slender advantage.
The yellow card finally appeared in the 77th minute for Matthew Russell’s crude tackle on Harcourt. Minutes later McDonagh was clattered into behind by Michael Bowler causing a melee involving a host of opposing players, the Town number nine being assaulted while on the turf. The tackle was not punished but McDonagh was for his reaction with a booking.
Blackshaw forced Kennedy into a good save from his twenty yarder as the match entered its final five minutes, but Matlock recovered their composure in the dying embers, sensibly retaining possession near to the corner flags and creating another chance.
Black’s crunching but perfectly timed tackle on Russell saw the ball break for McDonagh who was crowded out as he weaved along the by-line.
Hume made a cameo appearance and ensured his flock would not be bullied further before the final whistle.
So it’s five league and cup wins on the bounce now for the Gladiators and also a cup final to look forward to.
League business now is their continuing priority, they will want to continue this rich seam of form and guarantee Premier Division survival.
GLOSSOP NORTH END: 1 Liam Higginbotham 2 Michael Bowler 3 Matthew Russell 4 Kelvin Lugsden 5 Dave Young 6 Danny White (14 Jason Carey 43) 7 Lee Blackshaw 8 Sam Grimshaw (12 Kieran Lugsden 27) 9 Tom Bailey 10 Ben Richardson 11 Eddie Moran Other subs: 15 Martin Parker 16 Danny Browne 17 Ben Halfacre
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Grant Black 3 Oscar Radford 4 Josh Meade 5 Muhammed Sabo (12 Julian Banton 46) 6 Adam Yates 7 Ted Cribley (14 Micky Harcourt 64) 8 Scott Maxfield 9 Jamie McDonagh 10 Corey Gregory (15 Mark Hume 90) 11 Niall McManus Only 3 subs named.
REFEREE: Jim Thornhill (Ilkeston) ATTENDANCE: 230 BEST GLADIATOR: Jamie McDonagh