Matlock Town 2 Nantwich Town 1
Goals from Micky Harcourt and Corey Gregory ensured a deserved second home win in four days for a hard-working Matlock side at the Reynolds Stadium on Saturday.
While the Cheshire visitors had more of the possession, the Gladiators created more chances and this win against a decent Nantwich outfit gave Town fans much cause for optimism.
Matlock retained the starting eleven which had swept aside Stocksbridge four days earlier, but on the bench Martin Foster and new recruit Jordan Snodin came in for Will Dennis and Liam Gaughan.
The visitors pegged Matlock back early on forcing three corners within the opening three minutes and the hosts had to defend stoutly to keep their goal intact.
It was seven minutes before the Blues made inroads into the Nantwich defence but the move ended when Danny Holland was penalised for a push on Russ Courtney as he challenged for Darryl Thomas’right wing cross.
But the Gladiators ought have gone in front on 12 minutes when Thomas and Holland combined to feed Liam Needham only for the captain to fire against goalkeeper Luke Simpson’s body in a one on one duel.
Holland drove at Simpson before the Gladiators broke the deadlock in the 17th minute. David Haggerty rose to meet Gregory’s corner,his header dropping for Harcourt to fire in from close range.
Nantwich replied with winger Adam Carden’s cross from the right bringing about a scramble in the home penalty box but again positive defending saw danger averted.
Gregory’s header at the other end was forced clear but Nantwich forced another corner on the right, an inswinging delivery from Max Harrop dropping inches past the back post.
It might have been 2-0 on 36 minutes only for Simpson to save brilliantly from White who had been released by an intelligent Darryl Thomas pass.
It looked to be a significant intervention as just five minutes afterwards, a single lapse in concentration by the Matlock defence led to an equaliser.
Danny Caldecott’s ball behind the back line released Harry Clayton who showed no mercy in crashing a rising shot past Jon Kennedy.
Almost immediately Lavell White had a decent chance to restore the Matlock lead but he shot wildly over the bar from the edge of the box.
Then two minutes after the interval, Leesley’s low cross narrowly eluded Thomas who needed just a touch to steer the ball home.
The chances dried up and it was Matlock who grabbed all three points after Leesley was fouled on the left in the 63rd minute. Gregory curled in a teasing low ball which beat everyone and most significantly Simpson to nestle in the back of the net.
Nantwich poured forward in search of a second equaliser but Matlock worked tirelessly and the only dangerous moment came on 71 minutes when substitute Chris Amadi sliced a cross from Aaron Burns wide at the near post just two minutes after he replaced goalscorer Clayton.
It was an important win for Matlock ahead of four successive away games, starting at Worksop Town on Bank Holiday Monday.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Joe Leesley 4 Lavell White 5 David Haggerty 6 Oscar Radford 7 Corey Gregory 8 James Ashmore 9 Danny Holland (15 Martin Foster 76) 10 Darryl Thomas 11 Liam Needham Other subs: 12 Gareth Davies 14 Anthony Griffith-Junior 16 Jordan Snodin 17 Nick Buxton
NANTWICH TOWN: 1 Luke Simpson 2 Alex Frost 3 Danny Caldecott 4 Thomas Moore 5 Earl Davis 6 Russ Courtney (15 Sam Wilson-Egerton 46) 7Adam Carden 8 Mark Jones 9 Aaron Burns 10 Harry Clayton (17 Chris Amadi 69) 11 Max Harrop Other subs: 12 Ashley Young 14 AndyWhite 16 Oliver Devaney
REFEREE: Mr I Johnston (Leeds) ATTENDANCE: 279 BEST GLADIATOR: Joe Leesley
Report by Ian Richardson
All photos by Marisa Cashill