Gladiators open the season with a defeat

Trafford 2 Matlock Town 1

Despite taking the lead, Matlock suffered a third successive opening day defeat as newly promoted Trafford came back to mark their Premier Division debut with a victory at Shawe View.

Matlock had begun the game brightly but after going in front through Darryl Thomas,they allowed Trafford a swift equaliser and in a low key second-half of few chances,it was the hosts who were celebrating as they snatched victory with 11 minutes left.

Town were without last season’s top scorer Lewis McMahon through suspension and skipper James Lukic with knee trouble and they were handed two more blows as player of the year Adam Yates and busy midfielder Anton Foster were also non-starters through injury.

So the side more or less picked itself with five of the starting line-up making debuts and goalkeeper Jon Kennedy making his 100th appearance for the Gladiators.

There were a couple of promising opportunities in the opening five minutes for Matlock as a Thomas cross was narrowly too far ahead of Danny Holland and Thomas could not control a great through ball from Martin Foster.

But it was Kennedy who was tested first dropping to scoop away a free kick from Andy Smart before two excellent tackles from Joe Leesley halted dangerous Trafford moves.

Corey Gregory set up Liam Needham for the captain to fire wide from 20 yards but Gregory was prominent in the Matlock goal which arrived on 29 minutes. He broke at pace in a swift Matlock counter attack to find Holland who might have netted himself, but Holland unselfishly set up the supporting and unmarked Thomas who stroked home.

But the happy feeling amongst the visiting contingent lasted just three minutes and would not return.

The energetic Shelton Payne combined with Michael Oates as Trafford cut open the Town defence just as Matlock had inflicted similar damage for their goal and the finish was deadly accurate, low past Kennedy.

Trafford, inspired by their quick response, burst forward again as Payne’s shot cleared the bar with Matlock then scrambling the ball clear after Kennedy had saved well from Cedric Krou.

The second-half was largely forgettable with few clear cut chances, particularly for Matlock.

David Haggerty’s goalbound shot was blocked on 57 minutes before three minutes later Kennedy made a fine save low to his right to fingertip a Paul Ashton shot to safety.

The match was settled when Ashton broke down the left to cross low for Ally Brown, who had run from deep at full-back to fire home from close range.

Matlock had 11 minutes to redeem the situation but seldom threatened to do so. Holland sliced wide when well placed but home custodian Tom Read was largely redundant in what turned out to be a disappointing start to the campaign for Matlock in soggy Manchester.

TRAFFORD: 1 Tom Read 2 Ally Brown 3 Andy Smart 4 Steve Mason 5 Nia Bayunu 6 Rory Fallon 7 Shelton Payne (14 Kamahl Wight 83) 8 Martyn Andrews 9 Michael Oates 10 Cedric Krou 11 Paul Ashton (12 Bradley Anderson 80) Other subs: 15 Sam Halligan 16 Ali Nsangou 17 Simon Gallenders

MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Joe Leesley 4 Martin Foster (15 Anthony Griffith-Junior 83) 5 David Haggerty 6 Oscar Radford 7 Corey Gregory 8 James Ashmore 9 Danny Holland 10 Darryl Thomas 11 Liam Needham Other subs: 12 Gareth Davies 14 Lavell White 16 Liam Gaughan 17 Nick Buxton

REFEREE: D Bradshaw (Rotherham) ATTENDANCE: 229 BEST GLADIATOR: Corey Gregory

by Ian Richardson