FRICKLEY ATHLETIC 1-0 MATLOCK TOWN
Matlock’s generosity in front of goal knew no bounds as chance after chance went begging, especially early on, and then the sucker punch came through Joe Pugh’s 43rd minute winner for the relegation threatened hosts.
If Matlock fail to reach the play-offs then they will look back at this visit to Yorkshire and the two points dropped at home to Mickleover last weekend as key, pivotal moments.
Once Frickley had got in front they fought like trojans to preserve their advantage and then might have won by more as Matlock held a high line, pushing forward for the leveller.
Matlock had NINE worthwhile opportunities inside the opening twenty two minutes but frustratingly from the Gladiators viewpoint, home custodian Sebastian Malkowkski was not worked nearly enough, and notably none of these opportunities fell to top scorer Marcus Dinanga.
Curtis Morrison, looking sharp, turned neatly on a Liam Marsden cross to fire straight at Malkowski before firing wide on nine minutes. In the 6th minute Ted Cribley’s shot bounced narrowly wide off a defender for a corner which saw an Adam Yates volley knocked off the line by Ross Barrows. Jake Green then volleyed too high from twelve yards, Malkowksi kept out a Niall McManus effort before the Matlock winger should have won a penalty when he was sent sprawling in the area. Dwayne Wiley pulled his shot wide before Malkowski was well placed to keep out a Michael williams free kick.
Then out of the blue Frickley nearly led when in a swift counter attack Pugh forced Phil Barnes into a great diving save. before it was back to the other end as Cribley fired narrowly wide, Joe Doyle-Charles was comfortably off target and an intelligent chip from Morrison cleared the bar by inches.
The danger for the visitors was what Glenn Kirkwood described as being “bitten on the bum” and from a scramble, PUGH turned the ball home from a foot out and now Frickley had something to hold on to when Matlock ought to have been emphatically out of sight.
McManus was unlucky with a shot which was deflected wide by a whisker, but Morrison had a chance in the same move, elected not to shoot and Frickley survived again.
The second half was an even affair but the nagging feeling was there amongst Town fans that Frickley could get another goal to put them out of the game.
After Pugh drove beyond the far post and Barnes held a Luke Mangham strike, Tyler Williams’ 57th minute miss from a yard out eclipsed all of Matlock’s earlier failures in front of goal. The visitors had a Williams shot which flashed wide and a tame Dinanga header easily claimed by Malkowski.
A double substitution in which Andy Wright and Paul Ennis replaced Doyle-Charles and McManus nearly paid off within a minute. This time luck was most definitely against Matlock as Malkowski produced a brilliant save to push a low Ennis strike over the bar. Then another Williams shot was blocked, as was a free kick after the midfielder was fouled centrally a couple of feet outside the penalty box.
But Frickley ,first to the second ball looked more threatening , Barnes turning a Williams strike on to an upright and Mangham firing over the bar when well placed.
A game that began with the Gladiators convincingly on top and bossing proceedings ended with them not only fighting in vain to save a point, but being fortunate at times to keep their deficit to one goal. Frickley are now unbeaten in four games . winning three, Town are now out of the play of positions after being in a poll position just seven days earlier.
FRICKLEY ATHLETIC: 1 Sebastian Malkowski 2 Ross Barrows 3 Jack Waters 4 Bailey Gooda 5 Reece Fielding 6 Nathan Valentine 7 Luke Mangham 8 Sam Akeroyd 9 Joe Pugh 10 Noel Burdett 11 Tyler Williams (12 Waide Fairhurst 90) Other subs: 14 Julian Lawrence 15 Luke Hogg 16 Lee Morris 17 Josh Diggles
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Liam Marsden 3 Jake Green (15 Marc Newsham 81) 4 Joe Doyle-Charles (14 Andy Wright 65) 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Niall McManus (12 Paul Ennis 65) 8 Michael Williamsd 9 Curtis Morrison 10 Marcus Dinanga 11 Ted Cribley Other subs: 16 Jamie Yates 17 Callum Lloyd
REFEREE: Luke Watson (Barnsley) ATTENDANCE: 235 BEST GLADIATOR: Adam Yates