Gladiators fortunate to force an FA Cup replay

CLEARING THE LINES: Matlock skipper James Lukic (centre) takes control against Belper on Saturday. Photo by Andy Duffin.
CLEARING THE LINES: Matlock skipper James Lukic (centre) takes control against Belper on Saturday. Photo by Andy Duffin.
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by Ian Richardson

FA Cup First Qualifying Rnd

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Matlock Town 2

Belper Town 2

A PULSATING FA Cup local derby ended all square in the sun at the Reynolds Stadium on Saturday.

All four goals came in the first-half before Belper had the better of the second period but could not find the decisive finish.

The Nailers’ starting ine up included four ex Gladiators in Simon Harrison, Steve Warne, Ryan Mallon and Andy Rushbury, with another, Colin Marrison, on the bench.

Lewis McMahon fired at goalkeeper Aaron Chapman following a neat build up in the second minute as Matlock made an encouraging start.

Then Kane Richards fired narrowly wide before on six minutes Joe Leesley volleyed in a Kevin Deakin cross from six yards after Deakin had outpaced Aaron Pride on the left.

Rushbury forced Jon Kennedy to tip over a 20-yard drive after the Gladiators surprisingly stood off him, before the action switched to the Belper end where James Lukic headed over but the offside flag was raised.

But Matlock paid expensively for poor defending as the Evo-Stik NPL First Division South side struck twice in four minutes to take the lead.

Harrison was left unmarked to stretch and convert a Richard Adams cross in the 13th minute before Matlock were all at sea when Ashley Longstaff pulled back a low ball for Pride to prod in an unmissable opportunity from a couple of yards out with Kennedy, Adam Yates and Lukic all out of the equation.

Claims for a penalty were refused when visiting centre-half Karl Colley handled and then Matlock suffered a further blow when Leesley was stretchered off with a back injury in the 25th minute.

Shaun Tuton replaced him and he would prove to be Matlock’s saviour. His workrate was first class.

Ellington saw a close range effort smothered by Chapman after a low cross from Richards in the 42nd minute, but two minutes later Tuton equalised and it was the simplest of finishes for his first Matlock goal, slotting home the loose ball after Chapman pushed away Richards’ low drive.

McMahon then floated a 25-yarder marginally too high and Tuton might have grabbed a another goal, his low shot beating Chapman but rebounding off the foot of the post.

Kennedy pulled off a fine fingertip stop from Longstaff’s header after a Harrison free-kick and was the busier of the two keepers in the second-half.

Phil Roe nearly sliced into his own net after a long throw from Colley caused confusion in the home defence.

Belper increased the tempo towards the end and looked more likely winners as Matlock defended stubbornly.

But Matlock had their chances as Chapman dived at substitute Nathan Joynes’ feet and Tuton missed an absolute sitter, firing wide with the whole goal to aim at in stoppage time.

That would have been rough justice on Belper though as two great clearances from Lukic denied Jordan Ball in the 87th minute and then right at the death both Ball and Marrison saw shots blocked on the line as Matlock bravely held on.

Matlock Town: Jon Kennedy, Ryan Laight, Phil Roe (Lee Featherstone 61), Martin Foster, Adam Yates, James Lukic, Kane Richards, Joe Leesley (Shaun Tuton 25), Lee Ellington, Lewis McMahon, Danny Deakin (Nathan Joynes 70) Other subs: Luke Foster, Will Dennis, Nick Buxton Referee: L Jones (Hucknall) Att: 460

Star Man: Jon Kennedy