FC HALIFAX TOWN 2-3 MATLOCK TOWN
Tuesday night saw the Gladiators finished off the job they were just nine minutes from completing on Saturday, in deservedly knocking holders FC Halifax Town out of the FA Trophy.
This was no fluke result as acknowledged by many a Halifax fan who had seen their team not only matched, but outfought and out-thought by an industrious and impressive Matlock outfit. Importantly that had been the case over both games.
The Shaymen looked hot favourites to make progress on their home turf with a full division separating the two sides.
But if that was the script, Matlock had clearly either not read it or refused to accept their role as underdogs.
This Matlock side continues to please, and every one of the sixty or so vocal travelling band who made their way up to The Shay on a bitterly cold freezing night were made to feel proud of their side.
The visitors led by two Marcus Dinanga goals at the break and were fully worth that advantage. The expected Halifax backlash came and by the mid point of the second half, Jake Hibbs and substitute Matty Kosylo had wiped out that lead. The National League North hosts now looked odds on to complete the job, only for Ted Cribley to send the visiting support into delirium with a fine 72nd minute winner to earn a trip to National League Premier Solihull Moors in the next stage on Saturday week.
Matlock were unchanged and made an encouraging start on the wide pitch laden with frost. But the opening two chances fell to the Shaymen with former Gladiators midfielder Liam King breaking on the left to shoot across the face of goal in the 5th minute. Then three minutes later colosal centre forward Tom Denton headed an Alex Simmons cross over the bar.
But soon Matlock found the groove as Jake Green drove forward on a lung bursting run to fire narrowly wide from the edge of the box. Then Dinanga fired high and wide from the edge of the box but that excellent understanding between Dinanga and Curtis Morrison was becoming increasingly apparent and on 22 minutes it bore fruit once again, just as it had at the DCJ Group Arena on Saturday.
This time Morrison was the provider , his persistence on the right by out battling Nathan Hotte was followed by a simple but slick pass to DINANGA who calmly drilled his shot low to the right of Tom Nicholson to give Matlock the lead.
Halifax had the frustration of being able to do little right, they looked short of confidence, but this was attributable to Matlock’s hard work, the visitors being first to the ball and then having the pace and rhythm to make the Shaymen look second best.
When DINANGA netted again in the 34th minute, the shock was well and truly on. Once more it was the same combination, Morrison this time out on the left but cleverly adding to Hotte’s misery by waltzing along the by-line to find his strike partner with a clever low pass. Dinanga simply could not miss!
Hotte was soon withdrawn as Matlock continued to swarm in and around the hosts’ penalty box and only a false touch from Morrison who had been fed by Cribley prevented a third and possibly killer Matlock goal.
Immediately after the break the busy Cribley skipped past substitute Ross Barrows only to fire into the sidenetting at the near post. The home crowd had booed Halifax off at the interval, their anger and frustration increasing by the second.
Halifax had much to do and the mood changed on 57 minutes when following Denton’s head-down, HIBBS smartly exchanged passes with Richard Peniket in the Matlock penalty box before calmy firing a ten yard shot past Phil Barnes.
Morrison’s strike was well blocked by Nicholson at his near post and Cliff Moyo did remarkably well to foil Dinanga before home boss Billy Heath made what at the time appeared to be a significant change as Kosylo replaced King.
Within three minutes the magic appeared to have worked as Adam Yates did well to cannon his clearance off Peniket but referee Paul Newhouse awarded a Halifax corner, from which KOSYLO applied the finishing touch after Peniket’s header rebounded off the bar.
Denton sliced a volley too high from another decent chance soon afterwards when for the first time in the game, Matlock looked to be in a degree of bother, but these days the Gladiators simply do not throw in the towel.
They were back in front in the 72nd minute with Morrison again in the mix, sweetly setting up CRIBLEY who glided the calmest of finishes low into the corner from the left. McManus and Michael Williams were booked in quick succession, but Matlock retained their focus and their belief.
They offered no encouragement to an increasingly desperate Halifax by some no nonsense defending and might even have added to their advantage. Dinanga fired wide before low crosses from either flank by Williams and then Cribley just needed a finishing touch.
After four and a half minutes of added time, Matlock could celebrate another fantastic result in what is developing into a memorable season.
FC HALIFAX TOWN: 1 Tom Nicholson 2 Cliff Moyo 3 Josh Wilde 4 Liam King (14 Matty Kosylo 64)) 5 Nathan Hotte (16 Ross Barrows 37) 6 Scott Garner 7 Josh Macdonald (12 Jordan Sinnott 55) 8 Richard Peniket 9 Tom Denton 10 Jake Hibbs 11 Alex Simmons Other subs: 15 David Lynch 17 Shiraz Khan
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Liam Marsden 3 Jake Green 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Niall McManus 8 Michael Williams 9 Curtis Morrison 10 Marcus Dinanga 11 Ted Cribley Subs (all not used) 12 Marc Newsham 14 Jamie Yates 15 Alex Pursehouse 16 Kevin Grocott 17 Nico de Girolamo
REFEREE: Paul Newhouse (Peterlee) ATTENDANCE: 479 BEST GLADIATOR: Marcus Dinanga