Salford City 2-2 Matlock Town
Gary Neville and Paul Scholes watched on as the Gladiators thoroughly deserved their hard earned point from title chasing Salford on Tuesday night.
But it looked as if disaster had struck when Richie Allen had put the hosts in front for the second time during the opening minute of stoppage time. Resilient Matlock though had other ideas and they swept back upfield immediately to win a free kick from which Danny Holland nodded home at the far post to dampen wild home celebrations when the penalty went in.
All in all it was a great point against what manager Mark Hume labelled as “the best side we’ve faced this season.”
Fresh from celebrating a place in the First Round proper of the FA Cup and with a home tie against Notts County to look forward to, the Ammies began brightly and a fiercely struck grasscutter from Lewis Hardcastle whistled narrowly wide inside the first two minutes.
Salford were playing some neat football but it was Matlock who came desperately close to breaking the deadlock in the 9th minute, Joel Purkiss firing the ball goalwards and Holland seemed to have applied the finishing touch before Scott Burton save his side with a tremendous and crucial touch to divert the ball out for a fruitless corner.
Salford then piled on the pressure which eventually bore fruit just after the quarter of an hour mark as more crisp passing created the opportunity for their hero with a wonder goal to knock out Southport three days earlier, JAMES POOLE to fire clinically home.
But Matlock responded with gusto as Laurie Wilson volleyed inches wide from the edge of the box on 19 minutes followed two minutes later by Nicky Travis shooting directly at goalkeeper Jay Lynch from fifteen yards after wonderful build up play by Ted Cribley, Purkiss and Holland.
A Salford free kick from Steve O’Halloran bounced dangerously around the Town penalty box and as Jordan Hulme header shaved an upright before Chris Lynch went into the referee’s notebook for a heavy challenge on Cribley.
That misdemeanour was to prove doubly expensive for Lynch as LAURIE WILSON drove the free kick past the unsighted Jay Lynch for a 37th minute leveller. Another volley from Wilson was comfortably held by Lynch before Cribley beat Chris Lynch down the left, his cross being cleared as Matlock finished the half in the ascendancy.
A nip and tuck second period began with Holland robbing O’Halloran and finding Cribley who floated a shot beyond the far post and Travis was quickly into the tackle and then fired fiercely but not handsomely too high.
An O’Halloran header and a Hulme strike were both straight at Lewis King and with Craig Nelthorpe sent on to replace Purkiss, Matlock then had extra energy.
Nelthorpe eagerly chased along clearance to pressurise Steve Howson and fire wide and he was an ace away from meeting a Cribley centre.
But when Nelthorpe broke at pace to feed Cribley, there was a golden 88th minute chance to take home all three points but with only goalkeeper Lynch to beat, Cribley’s control deserted him and Lynch was out swiftly to gratefully clear the danger.
Salford had been mainly shooting from distance without reward but they looked to have struck the killer blow when in the opening minute of stoppage time, Ben Algar was adjudged to have fouled Poole. Although King got a hand to ALLEN’s spot kick it was hit with sufficient venom to find the roof of the net.
All looked lost for Matlock but remarkably they summoned the courage to attack again and Cribley teased full back Lynch into fouling him to the left of the penalty box. Wilson’s free kick found HOLLAND free to squeeze in his header and now it was time for the Matlock players and their fans to jump for joy.
Joining Lynch on yellow cards were Matlock’s Adam Yates, Holland and Travis with Burton for the home side, again for a crude challenge on Wilson which left a gaping hole in his sock.
Matlock’s bookings were for minor offences in comparison leaving them reflecting they had the worst of the decisions on the night, but that didn’t matter once Holland had shown he was the man for the moment with that precious equaliser.
So another good result against a promotion chasing team,time now to try and solve the enigma of losing to the struggling sides. Logic can go out of the window in football, Matlock are proving that right now.
SALFORD CITY: 1 Jay Lynch 2 Chris Lynch 3 Steve O’Halloran 4 Gary Stopforth 5 Steve Howson 6 Andy Dawson 7 Lewis Hardcastle (15 Danny Webber 69) 8 Scott Burton 9Jordan Hulme (14 Luke Clark 90+2) 10 Joe Mwasile (16 Richie Allen 59) 11 James Poole Other subs: 12 Luke Giverin 17 Chris Sharp
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Lewis King 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Ben Algar 4 Laurie Wilson 5 Adam Yates 6 Harry Coates 7 Ted Cribley 8 Liam Needham 9 Joel Purkiss (15 Craig Nelthorpe 56) 10 Danny Holland 11 Nicky Travis Other subs: 12 Scott Maxfield 14 Sam Smith 16 Jack Siddall 17 Ryan Pugh
REFEREE: D Underwood (Thornton Cleveleys) ATTENDANCE: 426 BEST GLADIATOR: Ted Cribley