Eastwood Town 2 Matlock Town 3
by Ian Richardson
Three goals in 11 second-half minutes saw Matlock overturn a two-goal deficit, but there was no hiding from the fact that, in general, this was a poor performance from the Gladiators.
It took two howlers from Badgers goalkeeper Alex Malonga to put a lethargic Matlock on level terms, and apart from the fightback, there would be little else to please manager Mark Atkins or the visiting support.
Matt Leese was given a run out in goal and was unfortunately picking the ball out of his net inside three minutes when left winger Brad Munn was allowed a clear run at goal on to Gavin Hurren’s through pass to tuck a well controlled finish beneath Leese.
A lightweight front two of Lavelle White and Darryl Thomas were making little impression and it was the 16th minute before the Gladiators offered a threat but White blocked Thomas’ goalbound shot.
In a half of precious few chances, Oscar Radford’s header from a James Ashmore free kick dropped wide before Micky Harcourt’s effort was blocked and Malonga kept out the follow up from Thomas.
But Matlock then found themselves two down on 39 minutes when Chris Shaw floated a free-kick into the box which eventually found Sam Craven who converted from close range.
It was abject defending from Matlock, typical of their performance so far.
The half ended with Ashmore’s free kick clearing the bar before the interval saw Matlock make three changes, hoping for a much needed improved showing.
Within two minutes Corey Gregory had a shot charged down after Malonga had saved well from White but inexplicably Matlock went to sleep at the other end and escaped as Keiran Wells shot over the bar with just Leese to beat.
The game looked all over from the Matlock viewpoint as despite having the lion’s share of the play, they seldom looked like opening up the Badgers’ defence but when Malonga lost a 74th minute corner in flight, Radford halved the Gladiators deficit with an easy finish.
Then two minutes later Will Dennis raced down the right and his cross was helped into the net for an own goal by Malonga.
The comeback was complete by the 85th minute and this was a much better goal as Danny Holland’s flick on released Gregory to crack a fierce rising shot past Malonga for a superbly executed finish.
The Gladiators had got out of jail. They deserve praise for turning the game around but will not need any telling that their performance must be much better come Saturday at Trafford.
Matlock: 1 Matty Leese 2 MickyHarcourt 3 Joe Leesley (Will Dennis 46) 4 Anton Foster (Liam Gaughan 71) 5 David Haggerty 6 Oscar Radford 7 Gareth Davies (Martin Foster 59) 8 James Ashmore (Corey Gregory 46) 9 Lavell White (Lewis McMahon 59) 10 Darryl Thomas(Danny Holland 46) 11 Liam Needham
Ref: K Silcock (Bolsover) Att: 86