Lancaster City 1-2 Matlock Town
The Gladiators G force grabbed the goals as Lancaster’s unbeaten home record was ended by an industrious and skilful Matlock side who put in an all round team performance.
Jake Green headed Town in front on 23 minutes and the lead was doubled by Ricky German on 68 minutes. An 80th minute strike from substitute Tom Kilifin gave Matlock a nervous finale, particularly with five added minutes, but they held out and had a happy trip home down the M6.
Max Hunt returned from trial at West Bromwich Albion to make his debut, replacing the sick Adam Yates, while Rhys Sharpe and German were also given starts. Latest recruit Jamie Jackson was a substitute. The Giant Axe pitch had survived an inspection at 9.30 am and with the temperature having risen, there were no problems with the match going ahead.
Green was soon causing problems with his pace and trickery on the right, the first sniff of a chance falling to the visitors on 4 minutes when he turned Paul Dugdale inside out but his cross was a shade too high for the stretching head of German.
Lancaster looked to be an inventive outfit and Phil Barnes did well to steal the ball off Hannu Tam after the City striker had been found by Sam Bailey who was at the heart of most of the hosts’ best moves. Barnes then got down brilliantly to push away Bailey’s shot destined for the bottom corner.
In an entertaining tussle, German slipped the ball behind a defender before being crowded out before Joe Doyle-Charles was booked for a tackle on Simon Wills when he appeared to have played the ball.
But GREEN broke the deadlock in style when after starting the move on the right, he darted into the penalty box to flick a delightful glancing header into the corner of the net from Micky Harcourt’s cross.
Wilks was then forced to concede a corner from Green’s penetrating run and centre before home defender Steve Williams’ inadvertent glance from a Shaun Harrad cross extended goalkeeper Joshua Powell who tipped the ball to safety.
Wills went into referee Hitchell’s notebook for a foul on Sharpe as City were clearly rattled by Matlock’s energy, although the visitors were grateful to Barnes on 38 minutes, the veteran stopper superbly clawing away Bailey’s long shot after the Gladiators might have done better in clearing their lines.
The half concluded with a near post Harrad header from Sharpe’s left wing corner flashing inches over the bar and Barnes comfortably taking a shot from Tam in his stride.
Matlock comfortably controlled much of the second period as central midfield duo Doyle-Charles and Michael Williams looked back to their form of last season and when the Dolly Blues did threaten Barnes, it was rebuffed by Hunt and Wiley, the former having a most impressive debut.
Wiley nodded a 50th minute corner too high before Matlock stretched City once more, Williams finding Green whose low cross was excellently cut out by Steve Williams with German looking to make hay.
Williams was yellow carded for an out of control challenge on Kieran Wallace before a classic away goal doubled Town’s lead. Williams broke at pace down the inside right channel and found the simple but perfect pass for GERMAN to fire beneath an exposed Powell. Gladiators
coach Danny Cox was sent from the dug out amidst the celebrations and joined the Town fans on the terraces for the remainder of the contest,
German shot too high from the edge of the box as Matlock looked to be home and dry but KILIFIN’s goal, out of the blue, gave City renewed hope. Matlock failed to clear their lines effectively for once and the Dolly Blues’ substitute drove in from eight yards.
For the first time in the half the Gladiators looked vulnerable, surviving an 87th minute scramble from a corner and then deep in stoppage time, Kilifin could have been City’s saviour, stretching to meet Dugdale’s low cross from the left but to the Gladiators’ relief, diverting it high over the bar.
Backed by an enthusiastic away following, Matlock kept calm and their hard work brought its reward on a day when there was not a single weak link in the line-up.
LANCASTER CITY: 1 Joshua Powell 2 Lewis Fensome 3 Paul Dugdale 4 Simon Wills 5 Steven Williams 6 Richard Mercer 7 Sam Bailey 8 Craig Carney 9 Hannu Tam 10 Charlie Bailey (16 Benjamin Hudson 79) 11 Ryan Winder (17 Tom Kilifin 54) Other subs: 12 Billy Akrigg 14 Gavin Clark 15 Scott Harries
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Kieran Wallace 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Max Hunt 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Jake Green 8 Michael Williams 9 Shaun Harrad (14 Nathan Whitehead 87) 10 Ricky German (15 Jamie Jackson 90) 11 Rhys Sharpe Other subs: 12 Nico Degirolamo 16 Zak Brunt 17 Jordan Pierrepont
REFEREE: Danny Hitchell (Wirral) ATTENDANCE: 258 BEST GLADIATOR: Jake Green