SHAW LANE AQUAFORCE 1-2 MATLOCK TOWN
An excellent second half display saw Matlock come through their tricky FA Trophy visit to Barnsley leaving manager Mark Hume feeling proud of his players.
A native of Barnsley himself, he was delighted with the application shown by the Gladiators who in some eyes, went into this clash at the big spending First Division South title chasers as underdogs.
“We were the better team and could have scored some more particularly when Shaw Lane went gung ho. I’m very proud of the lads, they could have buckled six weeks ago.” said a delighted Hume afterwards.
The tie, played in torrential rain, had extra spice with three former Gladiators in the home starting line up in Oscar Radford, Jordan Deacey and Lee Morris, with a fourth, Muhammed Sabo, making a late substitute appearance.
All three goals came in the opening thirteen minutes of the second period after a largely stale and cautious opening half which saw little goalmouth action. Apart from a shot from distance by Morris which flashed wide and then towards half time, a tame Joel Purkiss shot at goalkeeper Ian Deakin followed by a Ted Cribley effort trundling wide, that was just about it for excitement.
But that was soon forgotten in a vastly improved new half which began with Matlock grabbing the initiative, virtually from the first whistle.
Craig Nelthorpe’s on target strike was blocked and Cribley shot at Deakin before man of the match Nicky Travis broke the deadlock with his first ever Matlock goal in the 51st minute.
It came from a sublime build up on the drenched surface as Matlock had the Shaw Lane defenders chasing shadows as Cribley and Nelthorpe linked for the latter to cross low for the onrushing TRAVIS to slide home from close range. It was a just reward for the energy and strength Travis showed throughout.
The Ducks almost levelled immediately through Deacey whose curling twenty five yarder was brilliantly fingernailed on to the bar by George Willis, but the goalkeeper was then beaten on 56 minutes from a similar distance as STEVE ISTEAD’s low drive skidded past him.
If Shaw Lane thought they would now go on and win comfortably, they would be terribly disappointed as within two minutes they trailed for a second time, DANNY HOLLAND taking full advantage of a fortunate ricochet from Cribley’s pass to calmly shoot past Deakin from six yards. In the next minute the Town skipper failed to convert a good double chance that would surely have finished the game as a contest but first a shot and then a header failed to find the onion bag after more good work by Cribley.
Then Radford did well to nod clear a Holland header from a Matlock corner before the hosts responded and Adam Priestley headed comfortably wide.
Willis saved well from Morris and Gavin Allott also went close but Matlock looked the more dangerous in front of goal and Shaw Lane looked susceptible to the visitors’ quick incisive breaks with Travis and Cribley at the centre of most of them. In defence Laurie Wilson again partnered Adam Yates in the middle, both being on top of their games.
Deakin blocked a Purkiss shot after a home attack broke down and Purkiss was tremendously unlucky not to extend the lead on 79 minutes as Travis surged forward to release the striker whose shot cannoned off the underside of the bar before being hacked to safety.
It was the time for maximum concentration in the dying embers of the match and Town passed the test with flying colours and looking as if they are rediscovering the form of the second half of last season when they avoided the drop.
There was just the one worry as Holland limped off in pain following a challenge in the Ducks penalty area, Matlock will be hoping the diagnosis is not serious.
SHAW LANE AQUAFORCE: 1 Ian Deakin 2 Oscar Radford 3 Steve Istead 4 Matty Thornhill 5 Jonathan Wafula ( 14 Joe Thornton 64) 6 Adam Jones 7 Gary Stoher (15 Lee Bennett 63) 8 Jordan Deacey (12 Muhammed Sabo 84) 9 Lee Morris 10 Gavin Allott 11 Adam Priestley Other sub: 16 Grant Darley
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 George Willis 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Ben Algar 4 Laurie Wilson 5 Adam Yates 6 Craig Nelthorpe 7 Ted Cribley 8 Liam Needham 9 Joel Purkiss 10 Danny Holland (14 Niall McManus 67) 11 Nicky Travis Other subs: 12 Scott Maxfield 15 Ryan Fallowfield 16 Harry Coates 17 Ryan Pugh
REFEREE: S Wade (Hull) ATTENDANCE: 232 BEST GLADIATOR: Nicky Travis