Substitute Joe Leesley wasted little time in making an impact in Saturday’s rain soaked victory against Marine. Just four minutes after replacing Adam Yates, he latched on to a tame headed clearance from Lavelle White’s cross to drill a first time unstoppable low eighteen yard drive past Mariners custodian Callum Williams to win the game.
For Matlock it was a second successive clean sheet and win at home and a second league double of the season, the Gladiators having won 3-1 at Crosby in November. They again showed a tremendous work ethic with everyone giving one hundred per cent to the cause.
Top scorer Lewis McMahon replaced Leesley in the one change from the line up defeated at Ashton and McMahon and Massiah McDonald soon rediscovered the almost telepathic understanding they had as they combined sweetly on numerous occasions.
Both sides had early chances, Marine’s coming when a long range drive from Sean Doherty hit James Lukic to bounce ideally into Stephen Johnson’s path but Nick Buxton was out swiftly to block the shot.
Then at the other end McMahon found McDonald who cut inside and shot against the outside of Williams’ right hand post. The chances dried up although another fell to McDonald who saw his effort superbly pushed away by Williams. But this attempt came as half time fast approached with other attempts being of the half chance variety.
Matlock again defended well throughout with Micky Harcourt particularly outstanding despite obviously carrying an injury for the entire second half.
There was a good chance for the Mariners on 50 minutes when Will Jones played in Johnson on the right but again Buxton won the duel with the number seven with a fine save as he pushed the ball to safety.
Yates won two tremendous midfield challenges against the odds, but his recurring thigh injury caught up with him. On came Leesley who competed equally well, his sheer hard work and effort bringing him applause from an appreciative crowd.
After White had shot too high, Leesley nearly doubled the lead when his free kick rebounded off the bar with Williams well beaten. McDonald was a constant threat to the visiting defence and one break down the right saw him cross intelligently and Marine’s defence scrambled the ball clear.
Matlock stood firm as the ninth placed Mariners sought a goal to rekindle any faint play off hopes but apart from a late strike from substitute Michael Brown that flashed narrowly wide, there were no late alarms for the battling Gladiators who were clapped off at the end.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Nick Buxton 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Lee Featherstone 4 Adam Yates (12 Joe Leesley 53) 5 Laurence Gaughan 6 James Lukic 7 Ben Algar 8 James Ashmore 9 Massiah McDonald 10 Lewis McMahon 11 Lavelle White Subs not used: 14 Will Dennis 15 James Travis 17 Matt Leese
MARINE: 1 Callum Williams 2 Shaun Dowling 3 Matty Devine 4 Matty Brown 5 John Shaw 6 Jonathan Goulding 7 Stephen Johnson 8 Liam Rice 9 Will Jones 10 Sean Doherty (15 Mike Brown 78) 11 Michael Ordish (12 Nick Rogan 62) Subs not used: 14 Robbie Lawton 16 Alan Burton 17 Ryan McMahon
REFEREE: C Ward-(Blyth, Notts) ATTENDANCE: 272 STAR GLADIATOR: Micky Harcourt.: