Matlock dominated their FA Cup tie at Evo-Stik NPL First Division South Kidsgrove but had to come from behind and then snatch a last gasp decider from the penalty spot to earn the 2-1 victory they richly deserved.
Anthony Malbon had put the Grove in front from a 65th minute penalty before Ted Cribley levelled eight minutes later. Marc Newsham then smacked home a 90th minute spot kick to earn the Gladiators £4,500 in prize money.
The visitors were unchanged from last Saturday’s excellent win over Stourbridge, although Laurie Wilson came in for Anthony Griffiths-Junior on the substitutes bench.
On a warm and sunny afternoon and on a billiard table of a pitch, Matlock attacked down the slope and assumed almost immediate control.
Strong and mobile in midfield, their passing game had the hosts chasing shadows for long periods and they should have put the tie to bed by half time. Michael Williams was outstanding and he was soon testing home custodian Krystian Buezynski with a low 25-yarder which was well held by the Kidsgrove number one. Soon afterwards Williams drove too high from a similar distance after a neat controlled build up involving Marcus Dinanga, Niall McManus and Cribley.
Dinanga would then miss a gilt edged 17th minute chance when he lifted a right wing cross from McManus over the bar from only two yards out when it seemed certain he would score. Matlock attacked again, this time down the left as Jake Green found space to cross for Newsham to nod narrowly wide at the back post before Dinanga fed Cribley to shoot over the bar.
The half concluded with appeals for handball after Cribley’s shot was deflected for a fruitless corner and Kidsgrove creating a rare opportunity as Barnes blocked an effort from Malbon on the left.
Matlock went immediately on the offensive as the second half got under way. Burzynski parried a strike from McManus before Dinanga was mightily unlucky not to score when his low cross shot from the left rebounded to safety off the inside of the far post.
Matlock then had their first serious piece of defending to do when Green won an important header from a left wing cross with Dan Turner waiting for the kill. It led to a better spell for Kidsgrove and Barnes did well to tip a Malbon header over the bar and from the corner Ross Davidson’s header drifted wide.
Play switched to the other end with Burzynski backpedalling to claw away a Dwayne Wiley cross, with Williams seeing his header from the corner grabbed by the well positioned goalkeeper who then held a twenty yarder from Newsham. But after Malbon’s strike had been deflected behind it was the hosts who went in front from their next foray forward as Cribley tracked back to cover the run of Daniel Smith only to mistime his challenge and trip the full back.
Malbon easily netted from the spot and after playing with confidence and flair, Matlock were in danger of going out.
Ben Mills glanced a Joe Woolley cross wide as Kidsgrove searched for a second goal but Matlock kept their heads above water with Williams trying his luck again but shot over from long range. Town’s resilience though was rewarded on 73 minutes. Burzynski pulled off a cracking block save from Dinaga but Matlock would simply not give up and Cribley made amends for conceding the penalty with a stooping header as Kidsgrove failed to clear their lines.
The equaliser gave Matlock increased impetus with Joe Doyle-Charles firing over the bar and Burzynski pulling of a fine save from Williams. Then from a corner Adam Yates saw his header cleared off the line.
With a replay looking increasingly imminent, justice was finally done as the match reached stoppage time. A tired tackle from Smith on Newsham saw Matlock awarded a crucial penalty which Newsham, with calmness and authority stroked home.
It should not have been that close, and in essence on the balance of the play it wasn’t. At the end of he day though the objective of FA Cup progress was achieved and that’s all that matters.
Matlock: Barnes, Marsden, Green, Doyle-Charles, Yates, Wiley, McManus (Yates 80), Williams, Newsham (Wilson 90), Dinanga, Cribley. Subs not used: de Girolamo, Travis, Jameson.
Referee: B Speedie (Liverpool). Attendance: 257.
Best Gladiator: Michael Williams.