Gladiators throw away lead to bow out of the FA Trophy at first hurdle

Matlock Town v Barwell (green), Ted Cribley
Matlock Town v Barwell (green), Ted Cribley

Matlock Town went out of the FA Trophy after a 3-2 first qualifying round defeat at Glossop North End.

Their second first-stage exit from an FA competition this season was largely self inflicted as poor defending and the inability to put the game to bed when they were 2-1 up in the second-half cost them dearly.

Shaun Harrad’s brace had overturned a half-time deficit as Matlock looked in total control, but the Hillmen recovered their composure and took advantage of Matlock’s defensive generosity to fight back and win.

There was a pre match blow for Matlock when captain Adam Yates was ruled out with an injury sustained against Stafford Rangers seven days earlier. Nico Degirolamo took his place with the starting line-up otherwise unaltered, loan signing Noel Burdett being named as a substitute.

The visitors had a strong wind and rain in their favour during a first half that never got going.

Matlock failed to make having the conditions in their favour count. Tyrell Waite firied wide on 11 minutes and goalkeeper Paul Phillips held a long-distance effort from Kieron Wallace.

Glossop were handed the lead from their first shot at goal on 23 minutes. A forward pass down the middle cut through the Matlock back line too easily and Jude Oyibo neatly tucked a low shot past Phil Barnes.

Matlock hit back and Michael Williams shot over the bar and then skied a free kick even higher.

Harrad worked hard with little support and it was clear that the Gladiators had to improve greatly in the second half to progress.

Matlock were sent out for the second period five minutes before everyone else.

The management’s half-time words appeared to have done the trick, although they might have fallen further behind in the 48th minute.

Barnes came to his side’s rescue with a fine one on one save from Glossop debutant Zeph Thomas, who had a short spells with Town three years earlier.

The loose ball fell to Dale Johnson, but Barnes scuttled across his goal to block with his feet.

Three minutes later the game was all square with a brilliant strike from Harrad, the Gladiators top scorer, picking the ball up from a throw on the left to float a magnificent strike over Philips and into the top far corner of the net from 20 yards.

Shortly afterwards both Harrad and Waite missed chances to score before the Gladiators went in front just before the hour.

Waite’s shot was handled by Courtney Meppen-Walter. Harrad’s spot kick was brilliantly blocked by Phillips, but he could not prevent Harrad from firing in the loose ball.

Had Matlock then taken their chances there would have been no way back for the hosts.

Harrad fed Waite, who shot disappointingly wide when well placed. and Harrad and Micky Harcourt had efforts blocked on the line.

The visitors then pressed the self-destruct button.

Glossop broke and from a right-wing cross no one picked up Oyibo, who gently nodded a bouncing ball past Barnes for a 77th-minute equaliser.

Harrad drove too high after being set up skilfully by Ted Cribley before another defensive mix-up cost Matlock the tie. A free kick was needlessly conceded just inside their half and Adam Jones headed past Barnes.

Matlock had six minutes plus added time to save themselves and Harrad had the ball in the net, but was thwarted by the offside flag.

So Matlock have no money whatsoever from the prize funds in the two FA competitions, highly disappointing after their exploits last season. They only have themselves to blame, this, like the FA Cup tie at Haughmond, was there for the taking, and again they fell short, not primarily from their opponents being better, but from self-inflicted wounds.

They must now make sure they concentrate their efforts on jumping up the league and doing well in the Integro and Derbyshire Senior Cup competitions. There is still much to play for, the season is not over as some fans believe.

GLOSSOP NORTH END: 1 Paul Phillips 2 Matt Russell 3 Matty Russell 4 Lee Rick (17 Chris Baguley 78) 5 Adam Jones 6 Courtney Meppen-Walter, 7 Jude Oyibo 8 Gary Gee 9 Dale Johnson 10 Zeph Thomas (15 Ben Deegan 73) 11 Liam Wood (14 Tunde Owolabi 73). Other subs: 12 Mark Haslam 16 Kane Hickman.

MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Jake Green (12 Noel Burdett 84) 4 Kieron Wallace 5 Nico Degirolamo 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Rhys Sharpe 8 Michael Williams 9 Shaun Harrad 10 Tyrell Waite 11 Ted Cribley. Other subs: 14 Joe Doyle-Charles 15 Nathan Whitehead 16 Harry Wood.

REFEREE: L Freeman (Sheffield).

ATTENDANCE: 310.

BEST GLADIATOR: Shaun Harrad.