FC United make it 11 wins on the bounce with home success
Matlock made league leaders FC United battle all the way for their 11th successive league victory with a spirited performance in front of a 2,044 crowd at Gigg Lane.
They silenced the large crowd by taking the lead through Danny Holland on the stroke of half-time, but United’s Tom Greaves notched a second-half brace to turn the game around, the result though being in doubt right until the very end.
Matlock gave a debut to on loan Chesterfield defender Jack Broadhead in a 3-5-2 formation with another deadline week signing, Jordan Jones, on the bench. Massiah McDonald though has to wait to make his return until the home match with Witton Albion this weekend as he is serving a two-game ban.
Broadhead, Oscar Radford and Adam Yates patrolled the central area of the defence with James Ashmore and Joe Leesley acting as wing backs.
United made the start that was expected of a team on a ten-match winning sequence by pushing Matlock back in the early stages. Matlock survived a scramble in their six yard box on three minutes, but clear cut chances were not forthcoming until Matty Wolfenden forced Jon Kennedy into a splendid diving save to turn his shot behind just after the half hour mark.
From the corner United lost defender Charlie Raglan with a head injury and United had a like-for-like replacement in Adam Jones who would play a pivotal part in the Reds’ victory later in the contest.
The Gladiators grew into the match as half-time approached. Shaun Tuton drove weakly at goalkeeper Dave Carnell and then from a free-kick, Holland shot into the side netting.
Kennedy saved well again when Jerome Wright sold Ashmore a dummy on the left, the goalkeeper clinging on to the fiercely driven cross shot.
But with the whistle for the interval looming, Leesley, on his 20th birthday, cleverly picked out Holland on the left who shrugged off Callum Byrne before firing across Carnell to stun the vocal home crowd.
Unfortunately for Matlock, United crucially equalised early in the second period when on 48 minutes, Lee Neville returned a Kennedy clearance into the mix and Greaves turned neatly to fire home.
Jones headed narrowly over from a corner shortly afterwards but then proved his worth at the other end with a magnificent saving challenge on Tuton who had broken clear of the United rearguard.
Norton wasted a great chance for United, lifting the ball too high from close range, but Greaves would make the decisive contribution on 64 minutes.
Jones flicked a Brownhill throw towards the back post where United’s leading scorer was lurking with intent to smack the ball gleefully home.
Again Jones had to be at his best to deny Tuton as Matlock simply would not lie down. Then it was the turn of Neville to keep United in the lead as he hacked the ball away from Tuton and danger.
With the game into two nervous added minutes at the end, substitute Corey Gregory’s shot was deflected wide before referee Hodskinson shrilled the final whistle to the relief of the home support.
FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER: 1 Dave Carnell 2 Liam Brownhill 3 Lee Neville 4 Dean Stott 5 Tom Davies 6 Charlie Raglan (12 Adam Jones 31), 7 Matthew Wolfenden 8 Callum Byrne ( 15 Joe Fox 88) 9 Mike Norton 10 Jerome Wright 11 Tom Greaves ( 16 Greg Daniels 83) Other subs: 14 Astley Mulholland 17 Jacob Hazel
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Jack Broadhead 3 Joe Leesley 4 Martin Foster 5 Oscar Radford 6 Adam Yates 7 Liam Needham 8 James Ashmore 9 Danny Holland (12 Lavell White 88) 10 Shaun Tuton 11 Cecil Nyoni (14 Corey Gregory 69) Other subs: 15 Jordan Jones 16 Alex Bradshaw 17 Matty Leese
REFEREE: P Hodskinson (Preston) ATTENDANCE: 2044 BEST GLADIATOR: Jack Broadhead