REPORT: Gladiators secure opening day victory

Matlock Town survived an epic goalmouth scramble in the very last action of the game to hold on and defeat Bamber Bridge 1-0 on the opening day of the Northern Premier Division.

Marcus Marshall scored the only goal in the 32nd minute to ensure that the Gladiators made a perfect start to this season’s campaign.

A grand total of eight from the starting eleven were making their competitive debuts for Matlock followed by two of the substitutes who came on who were looking to make an immediate impact to their time at the Proctor Cars Stadium.

The first half an hour was a cagey affair where clear-cut chances were a rarity. Matlock impressed down the right flank though straight from the off where there was often good link-up play between captain Adam Yates and Scott Smith.

The deadlock was broken though in the 32nd minute after a whirlwind of chances for the Gladiators in the space of around ten seconds. Firstly, Piteu Crouz’s cross-shot in from the right wing cannoned back off the woodwork. The following shot inside the area was cleared off the line. The ball then fell to Andrew Wright who shot from twelve yards out forcing a good reflex save from Brig’s keeper, Lloyd Rigby. Rigby couldn’t control where the ball fell to however and Marcus Marshall was the first to pounce and struck home from close range to make it 1-0 to Matlock Town.

Matlock almost made it 2-0 just three minutes later when Luke Dean found himself heading towards the opponents area with more space than he realised. Dean rushed into a shot which found itself sailing over the bar.

The second half was a more open affair and Matlock really should have added to their tally. In the 50th minute, Piteu Crouz took an excellent free-kick from about 20 yards out which forced an impressive save from Rigby.

Scott Smith then had a great chance with a header from a corner in the 57th minute but couldn’t quite direct his header on target. Later on in the second half, Andrew Wright had two golden opportunities to double Matlock’s lead which would have been thoroughly deserved. Both attempts lacked composure however.

In the 63rd minute, Wright had a shot inside the area which Rigby easily held onto and in the 78th minute, Wright somehow managed to squeeze his shot from around six yards out around the post.

In the last ten minutes of the match, Bamber Bridge started applying more pressure. Matlock dealt with the pressure well with some solid defending and important blocks but they almost paid the price for their wasteful finishing when the game finished with a frantic goalmouth scramble which involved at least ten players.

Brig had a corner in the very last minute of injury time which even their goalkeeper came up for. The ball landed on the pitch amidst a sea of players and everyone went to pounce at the same time. The furious scramble, which resembled a pile-on at one point, lasted around fifteen seconds but must have felt like hours for all the Gladiator fans watching.

The ball eventually crossed the by-line for another corner but the referee had other ideas and blew the whistle for full-time to the relief of the home support.

Matlock now head to Greenwich Avenue in a difficult test against Basford United on Monday evening.

Matlock Town: Stewart, Yates (C) (Cooke 77), Gordon, Dean, Williamson, Wiley, Smith, Rea (Whitehead 83), Marshall, Wright (Hinsley 87), Crouz.

Unused Subs: Bramall, Tague.

Attendance: 402

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