Ten-man Matlock Town fought back bravely from two goals down to earn what for long periods seemed like an unlikely point, in a 2-2 draw at Scarborough Athletic on the 4G Flamingoland Stadium surface, writes Ian Richardson.
Headers from Michael Williams on 75 minutes and Jake Phillips on 90 cancelled out strikes from Wayne Brooksby and James Walshaw for the newly-promoted Seadogs at the beginning of each half.
Stand in captain Dwayne Wiley had been sent off for two bookable offences with eight minutes left.
Matlock had scarcely time to settle when they got in a muddle at the back and James Cadman’s low left wing centre was dummied by Walshaw and Brooksby had the easiest of conversions.
Matlock were relieved to be only one down at the break and made two changes but in a matter of seconds following the resumption, Scarborough had doubled their lead and seemingly killed the game off.
Walshaw netted with a ferocious strike from the edge of the penalty box that flew beyond Richard Walton and there was a justifiable fear that Matlock would not be able to recover.
But Matlock rallied and when substitute Jack Brownell crossed from the right, Williams lunged forward to direct his header low into the net via the goalkeeper’s fingers and an upright. Matlock’s fightback looked to have hit the rails when Wiley received a second yellow for a push on a home side player when trying to retreive the ball but they defied the odds when Phillips glanced a back header in from Williams’ free-kick.
Matlock survived the ensuing six minutes of time added on by referee Rhodes including a penalty appeal for hand ball but also Scarborough were defending nervously as Matlock refused to throw in the towel.
The Gladiators were clapped off by the 80 visiting fans as earlier grimaces had been replaced by smiles. Were Matlock fortunate? Most definitely yes, given the chances Scarborough missed. Did the visitors deserve a point? Arguably yes, for staying grimly in contention and taking the opportunities when they came.
It’s a funny old game.
SCARBOROUGH ATHLETIC: 1 Tommy Taylor 2 Ross Killock 3 Josh Lacey 4 Matthew Dixon 5 Kevin Burgess 6 Bailey Gooda 7 Wayne Brooksby (15 Matty Bowman 86) 8 James Cadman 9 James Walshaw 10 Michael Coulson 11 Will Annan (16 David Merris 82) Other subs: 12 Tom Morgan 14 Leon Scott 17 Jimmy Beadle.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Richard Walton 2 Jake Green 3 Alex Hurst 4 Harry Vince (12 Adam Smith 46) 5 Dwayne Wiley 6 Jake Phillips 7 Michael Williams 8 Marcus Marshall 9 Kieren Watson 10 Ted Cribley (15 Charlie Dawes 46) 11 Jamie Jackson (16 Jack Brownell 72) Other subs: 14 Shaun Harrad 17 Ashton Hall.
REFEREE: Jamie Rhodes (Leeds). ATTENDANCE: 1280. BEST GLADIATOR: Michael Williams.