Gladiators match report: Matlock Town 2 AFC Flyde 1
Matlock produced the shock of the day to deservedly inflict a first defeat in eight matches on big spending play-off chasing AFC Fylde.
Two first half goals did the trick, from Joe Leesley and Massiah McDonald, with the Coasters consolation in the second minute of stoppage time at the end of the game being a scruffy effort which was given to Sean Cooke.
Injuries again were the main talking point with the Gladiators line up. Goalkeeper Jon Kennedy sustained a serious hand injuryin an accident at work on Friday which will keep him out for the rest of the season, so assistant boss Nick Buxton deputised. Gareth Davies was originally named as a substitute but hurt his back in the warm up so Geoffrey Gouveia took his place.
Lee Featherstone, Adam Yates and Lavelle White were all recalled as Matlock started the game for once attacking the cricket end in the opening half.
Fylde threatened first as a dangerous Jimmy McCarthy cross passed through the Gladiators penaltybox before Town suffered yet another injury blow on five minutes when Martin Foster stretched and appeared to pull a muscle and was replaced by Ben Algar.
But Algar made an immediate impact, collecting a throw on the right and crossing for Leesley to fire home from eight yards to give the Gladiators a sixth minute lead.
The burly James Dean drove wide in the 14th minute before great defending by Lee Featherstone at the back post saw him concede a corner from Harry Winter’s cross.
Matlock defended with purpose, getting in important blocks and winning vital tackles as they played with enthusiasm and that commitment was pivotal in them doubling their lead in the 28th minute.
Micky Harcourt effectively cleared his lines leaving McDonald to battle with Adam Sumner on the right hand touchline by the half way line. Having easily won that battle, McDonald surged forward shrugging off a number of challenges and although his initial shot was blocked, he was on to the loose ball in a flash to fire emphatically low into the bottom corner.
Both Algar and James Ashmore had shots charged down and then another mazy McDonald run ended with him shooting tamely at goalkeeper Ben Hinchliffe.
The half ended with Buxton tipping a header from Michael Taylor over the bar, in the one time that the Gladiators assistant manager was extended.
Town were applauded off at the interval but they knew there was still plenty of hard work to be done.
Buxton caught a problematic Cooke cross before Harcourt nearly made it three on 50 minutes when his powerful header from an Ashmore corner cleared the bar by inches.
Fylde became increasingly frustrated at being unable to make any significant inroads into the Gladiators defence and it led to bookings for Sumner, Winter and Cooke with Leesley the sole Gladiators caution.
Two free kicks from Cooke and one from substitute Adam Farrell were off target while Buxton comfortably gathered a long range strike from Farrell.
In fact Fylde failed to create a clear scoring chance and that was down to Matlock’s sheer hard work.
Leesley burst through in the 89th minute but instead of pulling the trigger he delayed and was crowded out.
Cooke’s hanging cross appeared to glance off Lukic and the inside of the post to put Fylde on the scoresheet but Matlock had done more than enough to earn just their fourth home league victory of the season and only their second on a Saturday.
MATLOCK: Buxton, Harcourt, Featherstone, Foster (Algar 5), Gaughan, Lukic, Leesley, Ashmore, McDonald, Yates, White. Subs not used: Dennis, Travis, Gouveia, Leese.
AFC FYLDE: Hinchliffe, Haslam, Sumner, Scott, Taylor, Dunn (Dorney 74), Booth (Barnes 58), Winter, Dean, McCarthy (Farrell 53), Cooke. Subs not used: Barnes, Carden.
REFEREE: Mr A Sarginson (Walsall).
STAR GLADIATOR: Lee Featherstone.