Matlock Town 1-2 Salford City
The Gladiators’ first home clash of the new campaign ended in heartbreak for them as big spending newly promoted Salford bagged a winner four minutes into stoppage time to win all three points.
Given that the decider came when it did was probably no surprise from the viewpoint that with the likes of the Neville brothers, and Paul Scholes investing in the Ammies, late, late winners would be quite expected given Fergie time and the like.
Captain Chris Lynch drove home after Matlock had failed to clear a corner, the Gladiators though could also be accused of being naive.
Having seemingly rescued a priceless point through an 84th minute strike from substitute Joel Purkiss, should fellow replacement Nathan Forbes-Swindells have gone for gold with a long range attempt held by goalkeeper Jay Lynch from which City mounted that last attack?
Had Forbes-Swindells shot gone in , Matlock would have been celebrating, but it is harsh to put too much emphasis on that incident.
In the general scheme of things Matlock came up against a good streetwise outfit who knew how to manipulate a weak official who controversially sent off Matlock favourite Adam Yates in the 56th minute for what was deemed to be a second cautionable offence, but allowed City midfielder Scott Burton to stay on in the first half. He had already been booked for a late 26th minute foul on Liam Needham when he clattered into Ted Cribley seven minutes later.
Teams and managers look for consistency. Yates saw yellow for a foul on Gareth Seddon in the first half but knew little of a defenders’ whereabouts when he challenged with a slightly raised leg in the City penalty box. The two incidents could and should have been treated equally.
It made an already stiff task, with City ahead on 49 minutes, all the more difficult.
Salford made few friends at Matlock and will not make many more, but they will not be worried if it gives them promotion come the end of the season.
They are though a good side who will be in the mix for going up. Early pressure though did not bring them a breakthrough and it was nineteen minutes until Seddon acrobatically with an overhead attempt fired wide. The City number ten then shot too high two minutes afterwards and Lewis King held Burton’s strike.
Matlock, as a unit defending magnificently, hung on as King blocked a Jordan Hulme shot and then Harry Coates flung himself to his left to keep out Hulme’s follow up, Hulme then being denied again by King’s agility.
The hosts had looked tidy until reaching the final third although referee Mulhall boobed again as goalkeeper Lynch picked up Steve Howson’s back pass, without being punished.
Cribley fired too high after a neat move as the second period unfolded but Salford scored when SEDDON deftly nodded in Hulme’s cross from the left in the 49th minute. Again Matlock might kick themselves as Nicky Travis took a free kick quickly and his side lost possession.
Four minutes after going behind, Town might have levelled as Niall McManus scooped his shot wide after a lovely passing move.
Hulme pulled a good chance wide for City shortly after Yates saw red before a double substitution seemed to give Town fresh belief.
It came good for them when PURKISS showed superb control and steadiness to cut inside and finish brilliantly between Lynch’s legs for the equalizer.
But the other LYNCH stole all three points deep into added time to leave Matlock reflecting on what might have been.
The Gladiators were probably second best for large chunks of the contest but their work rate and resolve might have been better rewarded.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Lewis King 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Oscar Radford 4 Nicky Travis (14 Joel Purkiss 73), 5 Adam Yates 6 Harry Coates 7 Ted Cribley 8 Liam Needham 9 Ben Algar 10 Danny Holland 11 Niall McManus (16 Nathan Forbes-Swindells 73) Other subs: 12 Scott Maxfield 15 Liam Gaughan 17 Ryan Pugh
SALFORD CITY: 1 Jay Lynch 2 Dominic Smalley 3 Stephen O’Halloran 4 Gary Stopforth 5 Steven Howson 6 Christopher Lynch 7 Scott Burton (12 Luke Clark 60) 8 Tunji Moses 9 Danny Webber (16 Joseph Mirasilli 74) 10 Gareth Seddon ( 15 Matthew Chadwick 90+5) 11 Jordan Hulme
Other subs: 14 Luke Giverin 17 Philip Dean
REFEREE: Sam Mulhall (Northwich) ATTENDANCE: 344 Best Gladiator: Micky Harcourt