Matlock Town FC vs Bamber Bridge
Matlock Town FC2
The Proctor Cars StadiumNorthern Premier League
Matlock Town 2-1 Bamber Bridge
Both managers agreed the result was right as Matlock’s lead at the top of the league was extended to six points with victory in a crucial first at home to second battle on Saturday.
Alex Wiles and Reece Kendall found the onion bag for the Gladiators before Paul Dawson’s penalty gave the Preston outfit hope late on.
Town chief Paul Phillips named an unchanged starting line up from the one that began the scoreless draw with Bamber Bridge in midweek. The one change came on the substitutes bench as Liam Daly replaced on loan Nathan Okome, recalled by Chorley.
Attacking the cricket end, Matlock almost immediately gained control with Brig struggling to cope with the hosts’ aggressive start.
Callum Spooner did well to get his head to a penetrating cross from Al Byrne before Marcus Marshall did well to release Liam Hughes before the move came to nothing.
Former Gladiator Craig Carney, a substitute for the visitors, remarked afterwards that Hughes and Marshall are “a handful”.
So it came as no surprise when Matlock took a 10th minute lead, perhaps ALEX WILES being the scorer was!
But it was a deserved reward for the busy midfielder who made hay from Brig goalkeeper pushing out a low shot from Marshall to force in the loose ball.
Phillips quipped afterwards, “if Wilesy could score he’d be like Eusebio”—but he had notched his first goal of the season only to later miss a sitter! However that should not detract from a fabulous all action energetic display that was at the heart of a largely impressive Matlock performance.
Brig took a double blow with the withdrawal of experienced former Fleetwood defender Nathan Pond with a finger dislocation in the build up to the goal. They might have been deeper in trouble on 18 minutes when fabulous approach play on the left from Kendall and Marshall saw Byrne stoop to head Kendall’s cross at goalkeeper Mateusz Hewelt.
An unconvincing clearance from Joe Young gave Brig their first sniff of a chance shortly afterwards but Young swiftly atoned, sprinting off his line to deny substitute Finlay Sinclair-Smith.
Bamber had started to gain a foothold in the game after being under the cosh early on, Dawson nodding wide when also claiming he had been pushed.
But Marshall with a curler and then Byrne with a more orthodox well hit strike were inches off target late on in the half with Matlock good value for their lead.
Brig made a bright start to the second half with Young well placed to hold a shot from Sinclair-Smith after good work on the left from Mark Yeates.
But after a spell when Brig looked in the ascendancy, the Gladiators, after a double change, doubled their lead on 64 minutes, Byrne finding room on the right to deliver the most accurate of crosses for KENDALL to jump like a salmon to head home for his eighth goal of the season.
Shortly afterwards Hughes and most of the 836 crowd were astonished that the referee waved away penalty appeals when Hughes looked to be clearly tripped in the box.
Then Wiles missed a gloriously straightforward chance after being found by Byrne before a Byrne cross bounced about the six yard area and no-one in a blue shirt was able to put the contest to bed.
Byrne and Uchegbulam had shots charged down , Brig taking advantage when Aaron Skinner went down under a stray leg from Kendall and DAWSON sent Young the wrong way from the spot to set up a potentially tense finale.
But sensible defending from Town kept them on the front foot and chances to add to their tally went begging, including a miraculous goal line clearance from a stretching Brig defender to keep out a Hughes shot.
“It was probably a fair result” said visiting manager Jamie Milligan.
“We started slowly before settling and playing some good football but we ran out of time, However I can’t knock the lads for their effort, credit to Phillo and Matlock, they deserve to be top.”
Phillips concentrated more on the goalscoring chances that could have made the scoreline more comfortable.
“We missed a lot of gilt edged chances but we’ve got the right result. 16 games to go, nothing’s won or lost at this stage of the season, a lot of crunch matches to go.”
Matlock visit South Shields next Saturday who trail Town by six points with a two match advantage. It should be a cracker.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Joe Young 2 Jamie Sharman 3 Reece Kendall 4 Ioan Evans 5 Ryan Qualter 6 Mark Lees 7 Alex Byrne 8 Alex Wiles 9 Liam Hughes 10 Terry Hawkridge (17 Callum Chippendale 55) 11 Marcus Marshall (16 Jesurun Uchegbulam 55 (15 Liam King 85) Other subs: 12 Ross Hannah 14 Luke Daly
BAMBER BRIDGE: 1 Mateusz Hewelt 2 Matthew Thomson 3 Luke Higham 4 Callum Spooner 5 Nathan Pond ( 12 Finlay Sinclair-Smith 14) 6 McAulay Wilson 7 Isaac Sinclair 8 Dan Martin (14 Aaron Skinner 46) 9 Jacob Holland-Wilkinson (15 Craig Carney 78) 10 Mark Yeates 11 Paul Dawson Other subs: 16 Jake Thompson 17 Adam Dawson
REFEREE: Callum Jones (Widnes) ATTENDANCE: 836 BEST GLADIATOR: Alex Wiles