FC United Of Manchester vs Matlock Town FC
FC United Of Manchester2
Broadhurst ParkNorthern Premier League
Matlock Town FC1
FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER 2-1 MATLOCK TOWN
Craig Elliott’s first game in charge ended in heartbreak as against the run of the play, the hosts grabbed a stoppage time winner.
Perhaps there was a bit of payback from United as Matlock’s two goals against them last season, which brought them four points, both came right at the end of the match.
A penalty from Paul “Charlie” Ennis on 10 minutes was cancelled out by the dynamic Alex Wiles’ fourth goal of the season eight minutes later.
The Gladiators looked set for at least a point as they controlled much of the remainder of the match in a good team performance. But Callum Gribbin’s free kick was curled beyond Jim Pollard to secure a first home win of the season for United. To come home with nothing was a bitter pill for the visitors to swallow.
Elliott recalled Reece Kendall with Nico Degirolamo failing a late fitness test on a leg injury and Simon Njaria replaced Leigh Whelan in midfield.
The early signs looked promising as Matlock played a high pressing game and were on the front foot.
Jordan Barnett shot at goalkeeper Dan Lavercumbe inside the first three minutes before Barnett made hay from an error by Dontai Gabbidon, his centre from the left being a touch too high for Kallan Murphy’s head.
Gabbidon then crossed for Regan Linney seconds later, the delivery meeting the same fate as Barnett’s but United took the lead when a stray leg from Kendall caught Linney, referee Majid Ali pointing immediately to the spot. Former Matlock loanee ENNIS smashed the penalty beyond Pollard to lift the hosts who had been on a signing spree prior to the game and had brought in former Gladiators manager Steve Kittrick to assist boss Neil Reynolds.
Pollard then did well to clear from Gabbidon after a pass was deflected kindly into his path but Matlock fought their way back into contention and levelled when Murphy skinned Clive Evans down the left, his shot being blocked by Lavercumbe but WILES was on hand to knock home the rebound.
The theory of being at your most vulnerable when you have just scored nearly came to light as Pollard dived to his left to keep out a stinging drive from Will Russ.
But Matlock came again in an entertaining encounter, Barnett again intercepting a slack pass with Wiles firing narrowly wide. Action man Wiles went close again in the 31st minute, Barmett again creating the chance for Wiles to cut inside from the left, Lavercumbe managing a faint touch to turn the ball on to the post.
FC looked dodgy at the back but impressive when they attacked, Town skipper Ryan Qualter doing a great job to stretch out a leg to cut out a teasing cross from the right from Linney as half time approached.
In a tight start to the second period, Russ scuffed a back heeled shot wide for the Reds and Qualter nearly connected with a Barnett free kick at the other end.
Barnett tried his luck from thirty five yards, his shot being narrowly too high before a good chance fell to the busy Murphy, Lavercumbe saving well with his legs.
Matlock were largely dominant now, Kendall’s thirty yarder being deflected wide for a corner from which a volley from Al Byrne hit a Matlock player to bounce out for a goal kick to relieve the pressure on the home defence.
A needless crunching late challenge from Barnett though earned him his sixth yellow card of the season, his fifth in league matches and he will miss next Tuesday’s trip to Guiseley. Ennis and Gribbin joined him in the notebook .
Elliott remarked afterwards that Matlock were not careful enough in the final third. Their domination continued with the Reds hanging on, Qualter shooting wide before Town won three corners in quick succession.
But United broke for Ioan Evans being adjudged to have fouled Linney, twenty five yards out. There was a sense of forboding disaster in the wait for the free kick to be taken and those fears were confirmed as GRIBBIN curled a beauty into the net beyond Pollard’s despairing dive, ninety seconds into four minutes of stoppage time.
Matlock still had a chance to redeem themselves as from a free kick, Qualter’s header rebounded off the bar and Lavercumbe gratefully grabbed the ball for all he was worth.
It was a cruel end as far as Matlock were concerned. Undoubtedly they had played well and the result was harsh. Plenty of encouraging signs, equally some things to work on, in particular making dominance and pressure count.
FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER: 1 Dan Lavercumbe 2 Clive Evans 3 Guy Hall 4 Luke Griffiths ( 14 Jack Degruchy 61) 5 Jan Palinigas 6 Curtis Jones 7 Dontai Gabbidon (17 Callum Gribbin 61) 8 Paul Ennis (15 Andy Halls 78) 9 Regan Linney 10 Will Russ 11 Joe Rodwell-Grant Other subs: 12 Jack Anderton 16 Max McCarthy
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jim Pollard 2 Kallum Mantack 3 Reece Kendall 4 Ioan Evans 5 Ryan Qualter 6 Mark Lees 7 Al Byrne (16 Jake Day 90) 8 Simon Njaria (14 Jorome Slew 81) 9 Kallan Murphy 10 Alex Wiles 11 Jordan Barnett Other subs: 12 Jamie Sharman 15 Leigh Whelan 17 Sean Higgins
REFEREE: Majid Ali (Bradford) ATTENDANCE: 1311 BEST GLADIATOR: Alex Wiles