A late wonder goal from Chorley substitute Proya Ahmadi consigned the Gladiators to an unlucky and narrow defeat in a tight, tense and sometimes irritating clash at Victory Park.
Ahmadi struck in the 88th minute in a spell of late pressure when he turned and twisted on the edge of the box before curling an excellent 20-yarder past keeper Jon Kennedy and into the top corner.
While it was a goal worthy of winning any game at any level, it was harsh on a depleted Matlock who gave absolutely everything and were victims of some refereeing howlers during the contest, the official being too easily influenced by a hostile home crowd.
The fact the Gladiators could only name three substitutes, including Ben Algar, who has just 30 minutes of football all season due to injury, tells its own story. Regulars James Lukic, Oscar Radford, Lewis McMahon and Anthony Griffiths-Junior were all out injured, as was Will Dennis and the suspended Micky Harcourt.
Matlock had the first real opening with Massiah McDonald firing wide after being supplied by Bradley Grayson, before Adam Yates rescued Matlock with a tremendous acrobatic goal-line clearance from Tom Ince in the seventh minute and Kennedy held a strike from Cameron Darkwah soon afterwards.
Matlock were bright and breezy in response, the only fault from their totally committed performance being that they were unable to test home goalkeeper Jack Cudworth as often as they would have wished.
Joe Leesley shot wide before crossing to the near post where Lavell White tucked his shot behind.
Then on 22 minutes came a major flashpoint as Andy Russell went in on McDonald with a cynical two-footed lunge from behind which caused a melee involving most of the outfield players.
Russell inexplicably escaped a card of either colour, referee Gary Chapman instead booking Andy Teague and Laurence Gaughan for the ‘afters.’
As the game settled down again, Keil O’Brien headed well wide before Matlock’s best chance of the half came on 35 minutes as Leesley robbed Ashley Parillion but the full-back recovered to divert his goalbound shot for a corner.
Kennedy saw a long range strike from Tom Baker late and did well to keep the ball out before the half ended with a solo run from McDonald but Cudworth gathered the shot.
The second-half saw few chances initially although Matlock had a decent spell, themselves forcing three quick corners which the Magpies defended well.
White and Leesley were off target as Matlock gave as good as they got and after Gaughan had magnificently blocked a powerful Adam Roscoe strike, Matlock broke to the other end to win an 80th minute free-kick from which Leesley struck the top of the bar.
A promising build-up ended with James Ashmore snatching at his shot which drifted yards wide before a late Chorley assault ultimately brought its reward.
Kennedy had pushed out a twenty yarder from Russell but Chorley came again and Ahmadi netted that glorious winner.
It was heartbreaking for a gallant Matlock side whose bravery and guts had shone through when the chips were down.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Grantham: 1 Jake Turner 2 Ryan Leggett (William Rawdon 59) 3 Liam Bray 4 Deon Meikle 5 Rhys Lewis 6 Emeka Nwadike (Jacob Pease) 7 Nathan Watson 8 Alex Troke 9 Gio Carchedi (William Drury 72) 10 TJ Nightingale 11 Kallum Smith
Matlock: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Will Dennis (James Travis) 3 Gareth Davies 4 Martin Foster 5 Adam Yates 6 Laurence Gaughan 7 Bradley Grayson 8 James Ashmore 9 Massiah McDonald 10 Anthony Griffith-Jnr (Ryan Hindley 59) 11 Joe Leesley Other subs: Matt Wilkinson, Declan Jenkins, Nick Buxton.
Ref: S Meredith Att: 81
Star Gladiator: James Travis