by Ian Richardson
Evo-Stik Premier Division
Bradford PA 3
Tom Greaves 10
Rob O’Brien 21 (pen, 59 (pen)
Matlock Town 1
Ross Hannah 3
Matlock Town: Adam Sollitt, Ben Turner, Kris Bowler, Liam King, Adam Yates, James Lukic, Gareth Davies (James Knowles 70), Steve Warne, John McAliskey (Lee Morris 39), Ross Hannah (Dene Cropper 59), Ryan Mallon. Other sub: Lee Featherstone
Referee: M McGrath - East Yorkshire
Star Man: Adam Yates.
Mark Atkins rang the changes as promised, including introducing two new signings, but his side still slipped to a third straight defeat at bogey side Bradford on Saturday.
The high point was the third minute when Ross Hannah’s 45th goal of the season gave the Gladiators the best possible start. But that was just about as good as it got for the visitors as Avenue piled on the pressure to earn a deserved win, aided by an eccentric refereeing display by Matt McGrath who booked six Matlock players.
New signings John McAliskey and Ryan Mallon made their debuts at the expense of Nathan Joynes and Lee Morris. McAliskey, a 6’4” striker brought in on loan from Northwich, fired a touch too high, before combining with fellow debutant Mallon, a permanent addition from Worksop, to set up the goal which ought to have been the perfect boost for Matlock. A deft nod on from McAliskey fell to Mallon whose quick pass released Hannah who clipped a shot confidently past Lamb.
Avenue swarmed forward and on ten minutes, were level when Rob O’Brien got through three challenges and slipped a pass to Tom Greaves who fired into the corner.
Liam King was the first Gladiator in the book for blocking Plummer’s surge forward. Matlock needed to establish a foothold but a 21st-minute penalty decision, harshly awarded against Adam Yates, made their task so much harder.
O’Brien sent Adam Sollitt the wrong way from the spot.
McAliskey was booked for a harmless foul on Drury before Lukic blocked a Greaves shot after Avenue had made ground too easily for comfort.
Matlock had to substitute McAliskey as the referee was threatening to red card him, for s pushing and leaning into defenders too often. It looked more like a tall target man trying to impose himself.
In to the second half, Yates did well to clear when Nicky Boshell had sped past Turner and King but when Turner’s mistimed challenge on Drury sent the full-back to the turf, O’Brien again sent Sollitt the wrong way .
To add to Town’s woes, Hannah limped off with a tweaked hamstring and Matlock had a mountain to climb to earn anything from the game.