FRICKLEY ATHLETIC 1-2 MATLOCK TOWN
Two goals in the last four minutes earned Matlock just their third opening day win in the last eleven seasons in West Yorkshire as the Gladiators overturned an undeserved one goal deficit.
Jameel Ible had struck first against the run of play for Frickley with only thirteen minutes left but Micky Harcourt’s equalizer followed by substitute Joel Purkiss netting his first competitive Matlock goal completed the comeback after it looked like Matlock’s age old problem of not converting chances would return to haunt them.
Assistant boss Scott Maxfield echoed these sentiments. “We’d have taken the 2-1 win before kick off, of course we would, but we’ve just said in the dressing room that if we don’t put away our chances, we’ll come unstuck against better sides.”
To put the win into perspective, although Frickley is never an easy place to visit, on the evidence of Saturday the hosts will continue to wear their tag of perennial strugglers. Apart from Ible’s goal the hosts did not have an on target effort all afternoon. Chris Wood put a header wide in the first half and a shot from their most potent weapon, winger Brad Dockerty, sailed even further wide after the interval. Apart from plucking a few set pieces out of the air, Matlock’s debutant goalkeeper Lewis King had a comfortable afternoon.
The other debutant in the Gladiators starting line up was defender Harry Coates who did not put a foot wrong all afternoon alongside the also excellent Adam Yates,
Wood’s header was the first worthwhile chance on 16 minutes, this being quickly followed by Ted Cribley finding space on the right but his shot lacked power and was comfortably held by goalkeeper Sebastian Malkowski.
But Matlock might have struck the opening blow in the 29th minute when Ben Algar’s shot was blocked by Malkowski, the ball running to Danny Holland who could only fire at the custodian once again.
It was in the second half though that Matlock took control.
Liam Needham had a clear chance five minutes after the restart which again resulted in a tame effort at Malkowski before the midfielder, not renowned for his goalscoring exploits with one goal on his Matlock cv to date, sliced another presentable opportunity wide.
Then Niall McManus might have had a hat-trick in the space of only eight minutes, firstly shooting wildly wide from twenty yards after his industry had created the chance for himself. Then on the hour, Holland forced John Cyrus into an error and after finding McManus, the Londoner could only shoot against Malkowski’s legs. Finally McManus had a one on one duel with Malkowski, he placed his shot past the goalkeeper but it struck the outside of the post.
Matlock were then punished for these missed chances when from a free kick on the right swung in by Luke Jeffs, IBLE rose to plant a firm header beyond King.
But Ible would play a part in Matlock’s equalizer as he needlessly handled a through pass from Cribley to earn a booking but worse was to come as HARCOURT’s superbly struck low free kick flashed past Malkowski and into the corner.
Matlock though were not finished yet and as the contest reached it’s 90th minute Oscar Radford found space on the left to deliver a stunning centre which was headed home superbly by PURKISS and the recovery was complete.
The win was deserved but Matlock know that they will face far more exacting challenges in the weeks ahead.
FRICKLEY ATHLETIC: 1 Sebastian Malkowski 2 Macaulay Parkinson, 3 Luke Jeffs 4 Luke Hinsley 5 John Cyrus (14 James Kay 68) 6 Jameel Ible 7 Luke Hornsey 8 Simon Lenighan 9 Royale Johnson 10 Chris Wood 11 Brad Dockerty Other subs: 12 Brad Riley 15 Zeph Thomas 16 Ryan Smith 17 Sam Leigh
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Lewis King 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Oscar Radford 4 Liam Gaughan (14 Joel Purkiss 63) 5 Adam Yates 6 Harry Coates 7 Ted Cribley 8 Liam Needham 9 Ben Algar 10 Danny Holland (15 Josh Batty 86) 11 Niall McManus Other subs: 12 Scott Maxfield 16 Matty Steeper 17 Ryan Pugh
REFEREE: S Wade (Hull) ATTENDANCE: 236 Best Gladiator: Harry Coates