Gladiators fight back to beat South Normanton in friendly

Shaun Harrad, who was on target for Matlock Town.
Shaun Harrad, who was on target for Matlock Town.

Determined Matlock Town hit back from a goal down to win 3-1 away to Midland Alliance new boys South Normanton Athletic in a pre-season friendly.

Two strikes in the last five minutes of the first half from Luis Rose and Shaun Harrad overturned the deficit before an unnamed triallist sealed the win in the second period.

But more importantly, the Gladiators gained much more from the fixture, watched by a crowd of 130, than the one against Mansfield Town U21s. It was a hard-fought, competitive clash in which the Shiners caused the visitors problems. So much so that they went in front after 24 minutes when Max Hunt fouled Shane Newton, who comfortably slotted home from the resulting penalty.

As Matlock hit back, South Normanton defended superbly to halt Harrad, who looked to profit from a left-wing cross, but the striker, who led the line superbly, was left ruing his ill fortune on 31 minutes when he turned neatly only to see his shot bounce out off the inside of a post.

Michael Williams limped off with a tight hamstring but, four minutes later, Matlock levelled when Harrad burst clear on the right and looked up to feed Rose with a low centre which the ex-Ilkeston youngster prodded home, despite a valiant attempt from Mark Strzyzewski to clear on the line.

After Dom Allen had been booked for a late challenge on the returning Ted Cribley, Harrad again showed his class as he latched on to a pass over the home defence to dispatch a controlled, volleyed finish over the head of goalkeeper Charlie Mansfield to give Town the lead.

Matlock should have put the game to bed early in the second half. After Harrad’s free-kick had narrrowly cleared the bar and a header from a corner suffered the same fate, substitute Jake Green, playing as a forward, clipped a fine chance wide with only Mansfield to beat.

Green shot wide again when well placed before, on 61 minutes, some magic from Cribley, in a weaving run from the left, saw him play in a triallist to net with a precision finish low into the corner.

Matlock’s final chances fell to Harrad and Cribley before Normanton’s Tomi Jaiyeola shot wide.