Newcomers star as Gladiators clinch seven-goal thriller and league double

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Harry Vince’s superbly struck free kick five minutes into stoppage time settled a seven-goal thriller in Matlock’s favour after they had twice been two goals aheadagainst Lancaster City .

The 18-year-old midfielder on loan from Boston United curled a pacy shot into the top corner to earn Matlock three precious points and their first Evostik League double of the campaign.

It was another man with Boston connections who added much more venom to the Gladiators attack.

Lee Bennett, formerly with Shaw Lane, who scored for the Barnsley side in the televised FA Cup defeat by Mansfield Town in November, was signed on a dual registration agreement with Boston on Friday.

He could not have wished for a better start with the Gladiators as in the 13th minute Phil Barnes’ gigantic clearance reached the striker, who with his back to goal hooked his 15-yard shot beyond keeper Josh Powell.

Bennett also brought out the best in top scorer Shaun Harrad as Matlock looked a potent threat going forward.

At that stage they were also defending with confidence,

Micky Harcourt was a surprise inclusion at centre half with Adam Yates bravely slotting in at right back, despite his broken nose.

Matlock looked to add to their lead with Harrad having a header tipped over by Powel before in the 28th minute Vince floated in a free kick from the right for Harrad to net with a cushioned header.

Soon afterwards the enegetic Vince drove forward and went down in the box under a challenge from Ben Hudson.

Bennett took over but was forced wide before firing into the side-netting from an acute angle.

City fought back in highly fortuitous circumstances in the 34th minute.

Play was allowed to continue when Yates was pulled down in the box and Sam Bailey’s shot took a massive deflection off Tom Kilifin to bemuse Barnes and bounce in off a post.

That goal gave Lancaster heart and Matlock were pushed back into a defensive mode at the start of the second half.

Barnes did well to tip a header from Billy Akrigg over the bar four minutes in and Matlock escaped again when Kilifin shot wide.

Barnes pulled off a fine blocking save from Craig Winder and Akrigg drove into the side-netting as Matlock held on.

Matlock, though, had their chances. When Bennett cut out Powell’s clearance and rolled his shot towards goal, Hudson got back to clear.

Wallace curled a free kick at Powell before the best opportunity came in the 75th minute. Substitute Jamie Jackson’s excellent defence-splitting pass found Bennett, who remained composed to feed Harrad but Powell rescued City with a fine save.

The game’s goal tally was dramatically increased in the closing stages.

The Gladiators looked to be firmly in the driving seat again when Bennett held up play intelligently to feed the overlapping Harrad, who tucked his shot under Powell to restore the two-goal lead in the 80th minute.

But by the 87th minute Lancaster had levelled through two substitutes.

Ninety seconds after going 3-1 down, Sam Bailey’s cross was forced home from six yards by Paul Jarvis.

Then Craig Carney’s effort from a corner on the left was adjudged to have crossed the line.

But when Jackson was brought down, Vince stole the headlines with his delicious free kick winner.

MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Jan Yeomans 4 Harry Vince 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Kieran Wallace 8 Michael Williams 9 Shaun Harrad 10 Lee Bennett 11 Ted Cribley (12 Jamie Jackson 67). Other subs: 14 Harry Limb 15 Matty Templeton 16 Zak Brunt 17 Jordan Pierrepont.

LANCASTER CITY: 1 Josh Powell 2 Rob Henry 3 Paul Dugdale 4 Simon Wills 5 Glenn Steel 6 Ben Hudson 7 Ryan Winder (16 Paul Jarvis 77) 8 Billy Akrigg (14 Craig Carney 85) 9 Mamoden Djabi (17 Hannu Tam 67) 10 Tom Kilifin 11 Sam Bailey. Other subs: 12 Charlie Bailey 15 Leon Creech.

REFEREE: Bradley Hall (Stockport).

ATTENDANCE: 311.

BEST GLADIATOR: Lee Bennett.