Dwayne Wiley’s first competitive goal for Matlock gave them a slender victory against an in form and dogged Frickley.
Wiley struck on the hour as the the men in blue and white bounced back from the disappointment of defeat at Mickleover three days earlier.
Alex Pursehouse made his long awaited competitive debut at left back, replacing Jake Green who had a knee strain in the one change made by joint bosses Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins.
Pursehouse slotted into his position as if he had been Matlock’s left back for years, defending well and bursting effortlessly forward to add to the hosts’ attacking options.
Town could and should have made a dream start. With only 20 seconds on the clock, Frickley central defender Sam Hanna kicked thin air to leave Ted Cribley through on goal, but the Yorkshiremen’s Polish goalkeeper Seb Malkowski spared Hanna’s blushes with a fine block, Marcus Dinanga being ruled offside as he picked up the pieces.
But Frickley recovered well to shade the remainder of the opening period. Phil Barnes held a header from Luke Mangham after the speedy and tricky winger Cameron Rigby had lofted the ball back into the danger zone following a partially cleared corner.
The first half may have been scoreless but there was no shortage of chances. Niall McManus drove high and wide from distance before in separate attacks, Dinanga twice shot early with Malkowski equal to both efforts.
Nathan Curtis stabbed wide as he seemed to lack conviction as Barnes narrowed the angle, while Mangham drove tamely past the post following indecision in their own half from Matlock who had a proper escape on 26 minutes.
The excellent Joe Doyle Charles nodded Nathan Valentine’s header off the line and then both he and Adam Yates made crucial blocks as further powerful shots rained in on the home goal.
An entertaining half ended with Wiley’s header being deflected over and a poor offside decision denying Dinanga who had broken clear from a deflection off a Frickley defender which the assistant should really have noticed.
But if the first half was marginally Frickley’s, Matlock certainly turned the tables after the interval.
Penalty appeals when Dinanga went down under Rhys Meynell’s challenge were waved away before Dinanga was replaced by captain Laurie Wilson with Michael Williams sent forward to support Marc Newsham.
Williams’ strong running and never say die attitude played a crucial part in Matlock creating virtually all of the second half chances and the hosts finally struck gold when Wiley met Wilson’s free kick from the right with a beautifully timed half volley to beat the diving Malkowski low to his right.
The shot crept through the net and there was a three minute delay while groundstaff carried out repairs.
Some heavy challenges crept in and combined with cheap bookings for kicking the ball away, referee Luke Watson brandished his yellow cards six times, to Williams and Yates for Town and to Athletic’s ;Valentine, Noel Burdett, Bailey Gooda and Macaulay Parkinson.
Once they had gone in front and in spite of six added minutes, Matlock seldom looked in bother and could have added to their tally.
An offside flag caught out Williams as he looked to convert Newsham’s low centre, an instinctive thirty five yard first time volley from Wilson was grabbed by the retreating Malkowski and a weaving run from Jamie Yates ended with him shooting narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
Williams looked Matlock’s best goalscoring bet though, seeing an on target header blocked, crashing a corner inches wide at the near post and then outpacing the Frickley rearguard down the right before his shot flashed across the box, narrowly beating the far post.
It had been a hard fought win but one that Matlock deserved for their second half performance. They improved as the match wore on to be in good heart for Saturday’s home FA Cup clash with Workington.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Liam Marsden 3 Alex Pursehouse 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Niall McManus (15 Jamie Yates 67), 8 Michael Williams 9 Marc Newsham 10 Marcus Dinanga (12 Laurie Wilson 54) 11 Ted Cribley Other subs: 14 Nico de Girolamo 16 Nicky Travis 17 Arron Jameson
FRICKLEY ATHLETIC: 1 Sebastian Malkowski 2 Gary Stohrer 3 Macaulay Parkinson 4 Luke Hinsley 5 Sam Hanna 6 Rhys Meynell 7 Cameron Rigby (12 Tyler Williams 70) 8 Nathan Valentine (14 Bailey Gooda 78) 9 Noel Burdett 10 Luke Mangham 11 Nathan Curtis Other subs: 15 Lee Morris 17 Josh Diggles
REFEREE: Luke Watson (Barnsley).
BEST GLADIATOR: Michael Williams.