Matlock Town avoided an upset on Tuesday night after defeating ninth-tier Quorn 2-0 at the Farley Way Stadium to reach the FA Cup Second Qualifying Round.

A Liam Hughes brace in the second half ensured that the Gladiators received £2,250 in prize money and are assured of a place in the velvet bag for the Second Qualifying Round draw which takes place on Friday afternoon.

Paul Phillips was absolutely delighted that his team put in a much improved performance after last week’s very disappointing defeat to Bamber Bridge in the league.

The Gladiators almost made the perfect start when Declan Walker’s twenty-two yard free-kick smacked off the cross bar. In the eleventh minute, Andre Johnson thought he had scored his first ever goal for Matlock but he was adjudged to have fouled his marker in the build-up play. Five minutes afterwards, Reece Kendall managed to find space from twenty yards out but his attempt was rushed and the ball was dragged well wide. It was an encouraging start for the Gladiators. However, Quorn reminded Matlock that they were no pushovers and were ready to show they were capable of causing an upset. Two long-range attempts stemming from good build-up play on the right wing almost gave Quorn a shock lead. The second of these attempts came particularly close with the ball just whistling past the post with Shaun Rowley seemingly beaten.

Matlock ramped up the pressure as a result of these warnings. In the 33rd minute, the impressive Andre Johnson made a lovely run into the penalty area but his attempt lacked a little conviction and Quorn’s keeper was able to save and gather the ball to prevent a close-range rebound. In the very next attack just a moment later, loan signing Danny Greenfield struck hard from the edge of the penalty area but his attempt rippled the side netting. Five minutes later, Liam Hughes had his first clear-cut chance when he found himself one on one with the opposition keeper but his attempt was blocked well. The first half ended with the Gladiators in control but the team needed to be more clinical in the final third.

The second half continued to be a keenly-contested affair with Matlock looking the more dangerous but Quorn showing a lot of battle and desire especially in midfield. It was the introduction though of Osebi Abadaki in the 57th minute that really tipped the scales in Matlock Town’s favour. From the second he stepped onto the 3G pitch, he looked lively and a real threat going forward and Quorn’s back four struggled to contain him right from the start.

As the pressure increased, Matlock finally took the lead in the 64th minute. An excellent cross from Declan Walker on the by-line found the head of Liam Hughes and he managed to steer the ball accurately past the Quorn keeper to record his first ever competitive goal for the Gladiators. After finally securing the lead, the Gladiators never looked back and attacked with confidence while looking very comfortable on the ball in all areas of the pitch.

Abadaki almost bagged a goal in the 78th minute. An excellent run into the penalty area from the right wing lead to a hard shot and forced the keeper into a smart save to tip the ball around the post. From the resulting corner, Danny Greenfield had a long-range effort but the ball was blasted well over the bar.

Matlock sealed the victory though in the 85th minute when Liam Hughes received a pass from Abadaki which wrong-footed a defender and the forward bundled the ball home from ten yards out for his second goal of the night and to make it 2-0.

Right at the death, Quorn went down to ten men after Osebi Abadaki was fouled by the last man preventing a clear goal scoring opportunity.

The Gladiators will find out on Friday afternoon who they will face in the FA Cup Second Qualifying Round. A day later, Matlock will host Stafford Rangers in their first home game of the 2020-21 league campaign.

Matlock Town team: Rowley, Yates, Turner, Egerton, Qualter, Lees, Kendall, Greenfield (Harris 81), Hughes (c), Johnson (Abadaki 57), Walker (Byrne 75). Unused subs: Bond, Dolan, Coppin, Chilaka.

Attendance: 295

Paul Phillips Quotes

“I thought we did well. I thought we controlled the game from start to finish. Obviously when you play a team away from home, they have spells but realistically we should have scored two or three goals in the first half but we couldn’t quite take our chances. On Saturday, we were nowhere near the races and didn’t create chances but today, with two forwards on the pitch and Andre showing what he can do by getting in behind people and Liam Hughes who I thought was unplayable. I just thought we looked a different proposition and we asked questions. I blame myself for what happened last Saturday – I got it wrong…I still think there’s things to work on after tonight but we looked a solid unit again.”

“I’m really pleased for Liam Hughes. I think he’s been brilliant and been a breath of fresh air on and off the pitch. We played to his strengths tonight. On Saturday, we didn’t do that. I think we could have scored two or three goals more tonight had we been more clinical.”

“I thought Osebi did well. I still think he can bring more goals to his game. When the opposition is tired, the last thing you want to see is a player like Osebi or Callum Dolan come on and start running at you. Osebi will be a real handful. He still needs to get to know the team as he’s only been here two weeks.”

“I think we’ve had six clean sheets now in the last eleven games we’ve had when you include the pre-season friendlies. I’m not saying that we’re always going to be exciting but we’ve got to build from the back. I think the team only had six clean sheets altogether last season. Tonight, we looked solid…if we keep people fit, we’ve got a good, good unit.”

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