McMahon at the double in a welcome victory

Martin Foster, Matlock Town FC.
Martin Foster, Matlock Town FC.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Evo-Stik League Premier Division

Matlock Town 3

Frickley Athletic 1

“Can we play you every week” was the shout from a happy and relieved Matlock camp as they responded to three successive defeats with a hard-fought victory and a league double over Frickley on Tuesday night.

The Gladiators’ only other league win in their opening five games had come at the Tech 5 Stadium a fortnight ago, and with Frickley below them, with just a point to show for their endeavours, this was a massive win.

But it was Frickley who were the more dangerous in a tension-filled first period. The Yorkshiremen failed to make their pressure count as Matlock defended with purpose and organisation. James Lukic and Adam Yates proved an immovable barrier.

The bonus came when Lewis McMahon shot them in front two minutes from the half-time whistle, which gave them confidence to look more threatening in the second half. Joe Leesley, who replaced experienced Lee Ellington in the starting 11, rammed in a second on 65 minutes and although Glyn Cotton halved the deficit two minutes later, Matlock secured three priceless points with McMahon’s second goal.

Frickley were quickly out of the blocks as Glyn Cotton saw his fierce drive deflect off Lukic, forcing Jon Kennedy into a fine diving save. Then Cotton cut in from the left to fire narrowly wide before a header from the giant Gavin Allott struck Lukic to produce a corner.

Town looked nervous and struggled to find a foothold. Home debutant Kevin “Danny” Deakin was barged over in the penalty box by Jason Yates but refereeing namesake Oliver Yates ruled the challenge as clean.

Then, after a scrappy period referee Yates astonishingly booked Ryan Laight for what appeared a ball-winning tackle on Jimmy Ghiachem, the first of a number of decisions which enraged a home crowd, who were praised by manager Mark Atkins for their backing.

Midfielder Inderjeet Aujla drove fiercely too high and it was a full 29 minutes before the hosts tested goalkeeper Tom Woodhead when Deakin failed to find sufficient power in a difficult 20-yard volley.

Kane Richards had been tripped by Aujla to earn a booking, then seconds later the Derby County loanee had Woodhead stretching to hold a 25-yard strike.

The hosts survived an onslaught as Allott’s height caused them problems, Ghiachem’s shot was charged down and Lukic’s superbly-timed challenge on Cotton kept Frickley at bay.

Then out of the blue came a wonder goal from McMahon, who curled in a peach from 25 yards out after Richards’s run was blocked.

So against the run of the play Matlock held the lead and they were out early for the second half as Atkins accompanied them on to the pitch to offer final words of encouragement and advice.

Leesley cut in from the right to pull a shot wide in the opening minute before Cotton was lucky not to be booked for clattering into Adam Yates.

Nathan Joynes saw yellow after a push, viewed as cautionable under the totting up procedure, and Richards joined him for tripping David Buck, the youngster showing frustration after losing possession on the halfway line.

Another poor challenge on Yates by Cotton finally saw the culprit booked and when he repeated his misdemeanour, he should surely have been heading for an early bath. But the referee called over captain Matty Bloor and issued a lecture, much to the derision of the Matlock contingent.

In between these two incidents, though, came two more great goals. Leesley, possibly in two minds, had fired straight at Woodhead on the hour but five minutes later he brought the crowd to their feet with a smart turn and a stunning low left foot strike which sped past a well-beaten Woodhead.

Cotton smacked in a corker from 22 yards past Kennedy’s left hand and into the top corner to give Frickley hope and set home nerves jangling but McMahon snuffed out the chance of a comeback. Woodhead failed to hold a Leesley shot and the Town number ten snapped up the gift by finishing from close range.

Kennedy held a well-struck Bloor shot as Matlock looked in no mood to relinquish their lead.

There is still plenty of hard work ahead for Matlock. Frickley will probably feel aggrieved at the margin of the defeat and possibly that they did not deserve to lose. But the Gladiators showed a determination and a togetherness to fight for the cause in difficult stages of the game.

Matlock Town: Jon Kennedy, Ryan Laight, Phil Roe, Martin Foster, Adam Yates, James Lukic, Kane Richards, Joe Leesley (Lee Featherstone 79), Nathan Joynes (Lee Ellington 63), Lewis McMahon, Kevin Deakin. Other subs: Ryan Hindley, Nick Buxton

Referee: O Yates (Stoke on Trent)

Attendance: 255

Star man: James Lukic