AFC Fylde 2-0 Matlock Town
Matlock conceded shortly before and straight after the interval as hosts AFC Fylde hit the top of the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division on Saturday.
Fylde had scored 11 goals in their previous two matches but that average never looked as if it would be maintained as Matlock battled hard without seriously suggesting they would upset the applecart.
Injuries were still a problem as Corey Gregory missed out but Daryll Thomas returned, albeit on the right flank with Lavell White on the left. Nick Buxton was in charge from the dug-out as Mark Atkins had to attend a wedding.
The Gladiators carved out a chance straight from the kick off with Danny Holland firing directly at goalkeeper Ben Hinchliffe after Thomas had broken down the right.
But Fylde responded almost immediately, a swift counter attack ending with Jon Kennedy saving from Michael Barnes.
Fylde enjoyed the bulk of the possession but Matlock were proving to be a tough nut to crack as clear cut chances were scarce at both ends.
Luke Denson headed well wide from a 19th minute free kick and Jack Dorney fired harmlessly over eight minutes afterwards.
Left winger Danny Lloyd then sent in two attempts, one which took a deflection for Kennedy to claim comfortably, the second being a shot which flashed beyond the far post.
Matlock had Fylde at arms length and it took a slice of good fortune for the Coasters to take a 41st minute lead as Kennedy collided with Oscar Radford as he came out to take a cross from the left and it left Matty Blinkhorn with the easiest of chances to push the loose ball into the vacant net.
Then Matlock conceded again just 30 seconds after the re-start as Fylde cut them apart with a fine flowing move and Harry Winter, who played one match for the Gladiators in 2011/12, calmly converted a penetrating low cross from the right by Barnes.
After those two quick strikes, the chances dried up for a spell and it was another 20 minutes before Blinkhorn could not put away a difficult opportunity following excellent approach play by full-back Dave Hankin and Barnes.
Matlock might have halved their deficit on 68 minutes as McMahon turned well on the edge of the box and fired narrowly wide. Then another chance fell to McMahon but the number ten could only find the body of Hinchliffe.
Matlock continued to battle hard with Martin Foster, again leading the side in the continued absence of Liam Needham, working tirelessly to break up play and to try and get his side moving forward.
But Fylde finished strongly to prevent any chance of a Matlock fightback with substitutes Joe Booth and Jamie Rainford looking to add to the Coasters ‘tally.
Booth’s header dropped wide and Rainford could not finish off a corner but that would have been harsh on the visitors who will reflect that they possibly gave the big spenders a little too much respect.
AFC FYLDE: 1 Ben Hinchliffe 2 Dave Hankin 3 Adam Sumner 4 Matt Hughes 5 Luke Denson 6 Caspar Hughes 7 Jack Dorney (14 Joe Booth 71), 8 Harry Winter 9 Matty Blinkhorn (12 Jamie Rainford 78) 10 Michael Barnes 11 Danny Lloyd Other subs: 15 Andy Russell 16 Ryan Charnley 17 Calvin Hare
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Gareth Davies 3 Joe Leesley 4 Martin Foster 5 David Haggerty 6 Oscar Radford 7 Darryl Thomas (15 Anthony Griffiths-Junior 58) 8 James Ashmore 9 Danny Holland 10 Lewis McMahon 11 Lavelle White Other subs: 12 Will Dennis 14 Jordan Snodin 16 Liam Gaughan 17 Matty Leese
REFEREE:Mr N Greenhalgh (Bury) ATTENDANCE: 363 BEST GLADIATOR: Martin Foster