Bradford Park Avenue vs Matlock Town FC
Bradford Park Avenue2
Horsfall Community StadiumNorthern Premier League
Matlock Town FC3
BRADFORD PARK AVE 2-3 MATLOCK TOWN
A memorable second half fightback from two goals down saw Matlock secure a fourth successive win in all competitions at the Horsfall Stadium.
An eventful encounter kicked off fifteen minutes late with the Matlock team coach held up in horrendous traffic chaos on the M62 and in the opening half it seemed like Matlock were still on the coach. Two sloppy goals were conceded and to add to their problems they lost midfielder Finlay Armond through a 16th minute red card for an over robust challenge on Mitch Lund, manager Martin Carruthers also receiving a red card for his protests in the aftermath.
After the magical 4-0 win against runaway league leaders Radcliffe in their previous game, this had all the hallmarks of being a banana skin for the Gladiators against a team who had parted company with their manager five days earlier and struggling just outside the relegation places in the NPL Premier Division.
This is exactly what happened during a challenging opening half when Matlock were simply not at the races. Their unchanged line up were put to the sword early on by a Bradford side who looked a yard quicker and obviously out to impress any manager in line to take over.
Avenue were a goal to the good inside four minutes and it was all down to scorer MYLES LA BASTIDE, the young winger skipping past half hearted challenges in the Matlock penalty box before rifling his shot past Saul Deeney.
Joe West tried his luck from distance as Matlock sought a quick reply with goalkeeper Heath Richardson comfortably gathering the strike but Town could have been two goals adrift in the 10th minute when following an incisive break down the left, Will Longbottom shot straight at Deeney when he should probably have scored.
Harry Wood was booked for a hard challenge on Simon Richman but there was worse to come when Armond saw red, followed by the manager Carruthers in what had been an awful start for Matlock. Lund, on the receiving end of Armond’s tackle was also booked for his reaction as tempers were lost.
Matlock won a corner which Richardson managed to guide away during a scramble before La Bastide was causing problems again, Deeney getting to the ball just before Longbottom. Yates was on the floor from what looked like an elbow from a Bradford corner, referee Callum Jones seeing no evil.
Longbottom’s strike was well blocked with Matlock needing to get to half time no more than the one goal down but that objective was obliterated through more poor defending seconds from the whistle when after Brad Dockerty’s effort was charged down, LA BASTIDE was quickest to react to fire the ball firmly home from eight yards and now it seemed like Matlock had Everest to climb.
Matlock brought on Ioan Evans for the second half in place of Alex Duhameau with Nathan Whitehead moving into midfield. Lund did well to block Anthony Dwyer’s stinging shot three minutes in, the Gladiators having come out for the new half early, probably with some harsh words ringing in their ears!
Shortly afterwards Avenue lost La Bastide to injury and his replacement Harry Colville immediately burst down the right with Richman unable to supply the finishing touch. A third goal then would surely have killed Matlock off.
But Matlock were right back in contention on 54 minutes. West was released down the left following neat interplay by Margetts and Dwyer, the full back’s cross was as inviting as you could wish for and JOHNSTON slid in to bundle home a neat finish.
Matlock came alive as panic set in to Bradford and that was emphasised even further when three minutes later, Lund brought down Margetts on the edge of the box to receive a second yellow and subsequent red to make it ten against ten.
From the free kick, Dwyer’s shot was a soft one and he was then booked for pulling down the breaking Dockerty. Dwyer was replaced by Demidh before MARGETTS notched his 25th goal of the season with twenty minutes left, Yates delivering a smashing cross which Margetts cleverly glanced into the corner of the net for a beautifully crafted goal.
Matlock were now in the ascendancy and had penalty appeals refused when Demidh and Will Lancaster clashed in the box. On the break Longbottom headed narrowly off target and a strike from Connor Shanks plus a Hey header caused worry, but the momentum was definitely with the Gladiators.
Evans nodded a corner directly at Richardson but with six minutes left there was pandemonium on the terraces behind Richardson’s goal as Johnston’s floated corner was headed powerfully in by EVANS, a late wedding present for the defender who had tied the knot seven days earlier. The visiting fans celebrated wildly but there would still be around twelve minutes , including added time to play.
Avenue forced a number of corners but now Matlock were defending much better with Deeney dominant behind a back line that would now not relinquish their side’s advantage.
The final whistle blew and players and fans embraced in what had been a stirring and thrilling recovery. Full marks to Matlock for their never say die attitude. They got themselves in a tangle and managed to weave their way out of it. A day that looked to be going all awry ended up where there was a multitude of smiling Matlock faces. They will not, however, want to make a habit of causing their own problems, a point that will no doubt be impressed on the players.
BRADFORD PARK AVENUE: 1 Heath Richardson 2 Lucas Odunston 3 Jak Whiting 4 Lewis Hey 5 Mitch Lund 6 Will Lancaster 7 Myles La Bastide (15 Harry Colville 50) 8 Simon Richman 9 Will Longbottom 10 Connor Shanks 11 Brad Dockerty (17 Jordan Preston 89) Other subs: 12 Oli Johnson 14 Chinedu Osadebe 16 Zak Kersey
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Saul Deeney 2 George Wilkinson 3 Joe West 4 Nathan Whitehead 5 Adam Yates 6 Finlay Armond 7 John Johnston 8 Harry Wood 9 Alex Duhameau (18 Ioan Evans 46) 10 Jonny Margetts 11 Anthony Dwyer (12 Karl Demidh 65) Other subs: 14 Andrew Wright 15 Olly Clark 16 Jamie Sharman
REFEREE: Callum Jones (Widnes) ATTENDANCE: 446 BEST GLADIATOR: John Johnston