by Ian Richardson
Matlock 1-1 Bradford City
Matlock Town: Jon Kennedy, Micky Harcourt, Lee Featherstone, Liam King, Simon Sturdy, James Lukic, Chris Bettney, Nathan Joynes, Ian Holmes, Gareth Davies, Ryan Mallon. Subs used--Adam Yates, Kris Bowler, Lee Whittington, Steve Warne, Ben Turner, Will Kendall, Kris Witcombe, Alex Bracken, Mark Haran.
Referee: R Shoebridge-Ripley
Star man: Jon Kennedy
Friday night’s friendly was billed as the return of hero Ross Hannah and whether he would inflict the sort of pain on his old mates that he had handed out for them so very often in the past.
The answer was an emphatic no as the former Gladiators’ goal machine scarcely got a sniff through poor service from his new colleagues and a tip-top display from the home defenders.
The League Two Bantams fielded most, if not all, of their first choice squad, but were unable to break down a stubborn Matlock side whose workrate and application could not be faulted.
Managers will tell you results don’t matter so much in pre-season matches, but both sides were keen to secure victory. It made for an entertaining affair as the ball was sprayed about the lush surface with rhythm and accuracy, and Matlock will take heart from the fact that any neutral observer would have been struggling to distinguish the full-timers from the part-time players.
Early promise for the Gladiators came when Ian Holmes broke down the right for his cross to break for Ryan Mallon whose shot was blocked.
Tall striker James Hanson drove high over the bar in City’s reply.
A tremendous midfield challenge from Liam King set up Holmes, who tried his luck from distance but he was to have better luck on 24 minutes.
Chris Bettney found space on the right to whip in a delicious centre and Holmes guided a neat header low past Rhys Evans.
Then when Micky Harcourt found Bettney, another cracking pass sent Nathan Joynes clear but his first time shot looped high over the bar.
City probably should have equalised in the 32nd minute when Hanson easily beat Lee Featherstone to ricochet to a clearly surprised Hannah who could only prod gently to new goalkeeper Jon Kennedy.
Experienced giant centre back Guy Branston, sometimes caught out on pace when defending, somehow found himself on the left flank and his dangerous centre was headed behind by Simon Sturdy. but the City equaliser came from the second headed goal of the night as Hanson powered in a header from Chris Mitchell ten minutes before the break.
Matlock fans were impressed by their new goalkeeper who saved excellently from Stewart on 53 minutes.
But it was the hosts who nearly regained the lead Adam Yates saw his venomous header cleared off the line.
Hannah, made skipper for the night, was withdrawn to huge applause in the 68th minute.
Holmes collected a lazy clearance with eight minutes to go and found Steve Warne who drove wide.