• Matthew Rhodes

REPORT: Matlock and Basford share the spoils

Matlock Town picked up a point on Tuesday night in an entertaining 2-2 draw against Basford United at the Proctor Cars Stadium.

The Gladiators showed great character and resilience by coming from behind twice thanks to goals from Reece Kendall and Liam Hughes. The point picked up means Matlock remain in ninth position in the table at this very early stage of the 2020/21 NPL Premier Division campaign.

This was a thoroughly entertaining game with both teams giving it absolutely everything on the pitch in a feisty and frantic encounter. Either team could have nicked all three points so a point shared was the deserved outcome for the game.

Matlock came very close to taking the lead in the ninth minute when the in-form Hughes met an excellent left-wing delivery from Alex Byrne. His header surprisingly lacked conviction though and Kieran Preston was able to tip the ball over the bar.

Action from Matlock v Basford (in orange). Photo: Craig Lamont.

In the 18th minute, Byrne’s 25-yard free kick diverted off the wall and went out for a corner. From this, the Gladiators almost scored with the in-swinging delivery almost fooling everyone and Preston was just able to backpedal in time to tip the ball over the bar to concede another corner.

The Gladiators almost took the lead once again in the 23rd minute when Spencer Harris had time to slot home from 12 yards out but he completely miskicked the ball and it dribbled well wide over the by-line in disappointing fashion.

Basford’s first major chance fell in the 33rd minute when skipper Matt Thornhill struck a firm volley from ten yards out inside a crowded penalty area but Shaun Rowley did excellently to not just save the effort but to keep hold of the ball too.

The Gladiators fell behind in the 37th minute. A wayward attempt from the edge of the penalty area was stuck hard by Kane Richards and ended up diverting off central defender Sam Egerton and into the net.

The Gladiators didn’t feel sorry for themselves though and they equalised soon afterwards right on the stroke of half-time. Byrne delivered an excellent corner and a magnificent leap from Kendall ensured he met the ball with a firm header and there was no chance Preston could stop that from going in from such close range.

The second-half was even livelier than the first. Matlock came agonisingly close to taking the lead just two minutes after the re-start when Kendall’s hooked effort from 12 yards out following another corner was headed away off the goal line by Ryan Wilson.

In the 64th minute, Hughes came close to giving Matlock the lead when his hooked effort from 12 yards out following another excellent Byrne delivery just flashed wide of the post.

It was Basford though that re-took the lead just two minutes later. Another cracking attacking set-piece in the game found the head of Matt Thornhill and the captain’s close-range effort beat Rowley and rippled the back of the net.

Once again though, the Gladiators kept their heads up and showed great resilience. Just five minutes after Basford went 2-1 up, Hughes made it four goals in three games as he secured an equaliser. An excellent corner delivery cause chaos and panic in the penalty area and Hughes somehow managed to find room to poke in an effort which just managed to go over the line. The referee did not initially deem it as a goal but the assistant referee raised his flag instantly and instructed the referee that the ball had crossed the line.

The Gladiators should have claimed a late winner in the 82nd minute when Kendall’s header from close range somehow managed to miss the target altogether.

Basford applied huge amounts of pressure right at the death and were it not for Hughes' headed clearances and some superb tackling from Ryan Qualter, the Lions could have taken all three points right at the end of the game.

Matlock: Rowley, Yates, Kendall, Egerton, Qualter, Lees, Byrne, Harris, Hughes (c), Greenfield (Walker 88), Abadaki (Dolan 76). Unused subs: Hull, Coppin, Bond.

By Matthew Rhodes