• Matthew Rhodes

Matlock battle back to win Trophy tie on penalties

Matlock Town staged an excellent fightback on Tuesday night to come from two goals down at half-time to knock out Coalville Town and qualify for the first round proper of the FA Trophy.

Goals from Reece Kendall, Spencer Harris and Declan Walker put the Gladiators 3-2 in front before Coalville found an instant equaliser late on to take the game to a dreaded penalty shoot-out. Shaun Rowley was the hero of the hour as he made two saves to send Matlock through.

The Ravens took the lead after only five minutes through the impressive Tim Berridge. A cross from the right wing found Berridge inside the area and after a good first touch, the in-form striker was able to slam the ball home from close range.

Spencer Harris was on target for Matlock. Photo: Jez Tighe.

The Ravens doubled their lead in the 36th minute thanks to more inspired play from Berridge. The forward beat Adam Yates for pace and was able to slot the ball home comfortably past the oncoming Rowley.

The Gladiators did have chances in the first half but were not able to put any of their opportunities on target. Osebi Abadaki, Ryan Qualter and Callum Chippendale all had good chances that were flashed wide of the post when the target really should have been hit.

Despite these chances, it looked like it was going to be a real mission for Matlock to get back level. The Gladiators were playing without the suspended Liam Hughes and Kade Coppin plus the unavailable Joe Bunney and it looked like the lack of an out-and-out striker would cost Matlock a place in the first round proper of the FA Trophy.

The fightback began immediately though in the second half. Only 90 seconds from the re-start, Kendall managed to bundle a header home from close range inside a crowded penalty area.

It looked like the Ravens had taken the eye off the ball and were now suddenly caught on the ropes. With a goal back, Matlock quickly ramped up the pressure and after only six minutes of the re-start Harris found himself completely free in the penalty area and was able to easily head home from 12 yards out following a lovely left-wing delivery from Alex Byrne.

With the match back on level terms so quickly after the re-start, the remainder of the second half was a frantic affair and was an excellent cup tie to watch with both teams going all out for the win.

Incredibly, the Gladiators almost scored another just two minutes after the equaliser when Abadaki saw his effort from the edge of the area smack the woodwork. Ten minutes later, it was Coalville’s turn to hit the woodwork when Berridge came incredibly close to a hat-trick as his 18 yard effort hit the cross bar.

Shortly afterwards, Byrne had his hands on his head in anguish as his effort from 12 yards out narrowly went over the bar.

With 15 minutes to go, it looked like the Gladiators had the game sewn up when Walker’s header following another excellent cross from Alex Byrne flew just under the bar and nestled into the back of the net.

However, the Ravens found an instant equaliser to make it 3-3. The impressive Berridge ran into space towards the by-line on the right wing and his pass managed to find Luke Shaw at the back post and he smashed the ball home from only four yards out.

With no extra time in place, the tie went straight to a penalty shoot-out after the end of 90 minutes to decide who would go through.

It was the Gladiators who held their nerve as Walker, Byrne, Qualter and Chippendale all converted their penalties while Rowley made two saves to knock out Coalville after a thrilling cup tie.

Matlock’s reward is an away trip to Coleshill Town in the first round proper on a date yet to be confirmed.

Matlock: Rowley, Yates (c), King, Kendall, Qualter, Lees, Byrne, Harris (Walker 65), Chippendale, Abadaki (Dolan 90), Whitehead (Egerton 46). Unused subs: Phillips.

Attendance: 362