Manager Mark Hume had a special reason to feel proud of his Matlock Town side after they had come through a tricky FA Trophy, Second Qualifying Round trip to Shaw Lane Aquaforce.
For Shaw Lane, who are riding high in the division below The Gladiators in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, hail from Barnsley, which just happens to be Hume’s home town.
The boss was delighted by the application shown by Matlock who, in the eyes of some observers, even went into the tie against the big-spending promotion-chasers as underdogs.
“We were the better team and could have scored more, particularly when Shaw Lane went gung ho,” said Hume after his side had set up a home tie against Blyth Spartans in the next round. “I’m very proud of the lads. Six weeks ago, they could well have buckled.”
The match, played in torrential rain, had extra spice with three former Gladiators, Oscar Radford, Jordan Deacey and Lee Morris, in the home line-up, and a fourth, Muhammed Sabo, making a late substitute appearance.
All three goals came in the opening 13 minutes of the second period after a largely stale and cautious first half which saw little goalmouth action.
Apart from a shot from distance by Shaw Lane’s Lee Morris, which flashed wide, and a tame Joel Purkiss effort at goalkeeper Ian Deakin at the other end, there was little to get escited about.
However, that was soon forgotten in a vastly improved new half, which began with Matlock grabbing the initiative virtually from the first whistle. Craig Nelthorpe’s on-target strike was blocked and Cribley shot at ‘keeper Deakin before man-of-the-match Nicky Travis broke the deadlock with his first-ever Matlock goal in the 51st minute.
It came from a sublime build-up on the drenched surface as the visitors had the Shaw Lane defenders chasing shadows. Cribley linked with Nelthorpe, who crossed low for the onrushing Travis to slide home from close range. It was a just reward for the energy and strength Travis showed throughout.
The Ducks almost levelled immediately through Jordan Deacey, whose curling 25-yarder was brilliantly fingernailed on to the bar by George Willis. But the goalkeeper was beaten on 56 minutes from a similar distance as Steve Istead’s low drive skidded past him.
If Shaw Lane thought they would now go on and win comfortably, they would be terribly disappointed because within two minutes, they trailed for a second time as Danny Holland took full advantage of a fortunate ricochet from Cribley’s pass to calmly shoot past Deakin from six yards.
It proved to be the winner, although Purkiss was unlucky with a 79th minute shot that cannoned off the underside of the bar. The main worry for Matlock came when Holland limped off in pain after a challenge in the area, They will be hoping the diagnosis is not serious.