For the second successive match Matlock lost to the new league leaders but the Gladiators gave a gallant display and were a little unlucky not to snatch a point at the end.
A strong and streetwise Magpies outfit look a good bet for a play-off place, if not the title, but Matlock showed great resilience, defending stubbornly and superbly and also fashioned a decent number of chances of their own.
The Gladiators welcomed back Micky Harcourt to their defence, the number two earning star rating for an almost faultless performance against tricky winger Paul Jarvis. In fact, Chorley had pace down both flanks as Josh Hine constantly tested Joe Leesley in dashes down the right that often caused problems for the Matlock defence.
Leesley’s underhit back pass on nine minutes let in Hine but the Gladiators defender was rescued by Jon Kennedy who raced off his line to block Hine’s shot.
Matlock should have gone in front themselves four minutes later when Lewis McMahon played Daryll Thomas clear but the striker, off balance, poked his shot narrowly wide.
Kennedy then held Hine’s near post strike but Chorley were to draw first blood, bizarrely from a Matlock free-kick twenty five yards from the visitors’ goal.
McMahon tried to take it quickly but horribly misjudged his pass and Hine was away like a cheetah, sprinting virtually the full length of the park before finding supporting midfielder Jake Cotterell to guide a measured finish beyond Kennedy.
James Dean twice shot wide for Chorley, who then saw midfield general Tom Baker only receive only a yellow card for a late studded lunge on Harcourt. Baker staying on annoyed Town boss Mark Atkins, who would be annoyed even further later as it was he who grabbed Chorley’s winner.
Hine forced Kennedy into another good save before the break, but ten minutes after it Matlock drew level as Thomas latched on to an assist from Danny Holland to smash in his fifth goal of the season from 18 yards with Chorley skipper Andy Teague culpable.
Goalkeeper Sam Ashton held a James Ashmore free-kick, but the winning goal came when Leesley was booked for bringing down Hine, and Baker scored direct from the free-kick with Kennedy probably expecting a left footed strike to the opposite side from Jarvis.
Matlock had 16 minutes to save a point and they gave it a real go.
Ashton flew to his right to palm away a fierce 25 yarder from McMahon, but it plainly wasn’t McMahon’s night. Twice in five minutes of added time scuffed efforts stayed out, with Ashton grabbing one close range effort on the line and from a header by Haggerty who had been pushed into attack, Ashton had an easy save from a bad McMahon mis-kick.
Right at the death Teague headed narrowly over his own bar as Chorley held on to inflict Town’s first home defeat of the campaign.
Matlock: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Joe Leesley 4 Martin Foster 5 David Haggerty 6 Oscar Radford 7 Gareth Davies (Anthony Griffith-Jnr 46) 8 James Ashmore 9 Danny Holland 10 Lewis McMahon 11 Daryll Thomas Other subs: Jordan Snodin, Will Dennis, Liam Gaughan, Matty Leese
Chorley: 1 Sam Ashton 2 Mark Ross 3 Adam Mather 4 Andy Teague 5 Keil O’Brien 6 Jake Cotterell 7 Josh Hine 8 Tom Baker 9 James Dean (Darren Stephenson 76) 10 Dale Witham 11 Paul Jarvis Other subs: Paul O’Neill, Jamie Vermiglio, Simon Wiles, Alex Meanley
Ref: Tom Bramall (Killamarsh) Att: 282
Star Gladiator: Micky Harcourt
Report by Ian Richardson
All photos by Tina Jenner