Blyth Spartans were knocked out of this season’s FA Trophy competition on a cold and rainy Peak District afternoon in a pulsating game, the result of which could have gone either way.
Spartans went into the match without injured captain Robbie Dale.
Blyth had the best of the early exchanges and within minutes of the kick-off Michael Richardson found Daniel Maguire just inside Matlock’s penalty box but he was smartly dispossessed by Liam Gaughan.
The visitors went ahead after six minutes when clever interplay between Andrew Cartwright and Richardson resulted in a low cross from Cartwright which was bundled in at the near post by Maguire.
However, Matlock equalised only four minutes later when a cross from the left eluded the Spartans defenders and Matlock captain Danny Holland found himself with time and space at the far post to tap in from four yards.
Holland came close to scoring again immediately after the restart but Ryan Hutchinson was on hand to clear.
At the other end only a last ditch tackle by Adam Yates denied Richardson following a powerful run from midfield.
Hutchinson again came to Blyth’s rescue, clearing off the line after the lively Niall McManus lobbed Spartans keeper Fabian Otte.
Blyth’s early domination had diminished as play switched from end to end, but they went close to regaining the lead when Richardson and Cartwright combined well once again and the former’s cross has headed against the post by Sean Reid, necessitating Matlock goalkeeper George Willis to desperately claw the ball off the line.
Agonisingly for Blyth, Reid again just failed to score when he headed a Maguire cross downward and goal bound but the ball bounced up, hit the bar, and somehow carried on up and out of play.
Matlock took the lead on 26 minutes when Blyth lost the ball in midfield and McManus picked out Holland who calmly stroked the ball past Otte.
The ever dangerous Reid was denied again as half-time approached, this time when Willis was quick to come out and beat him to the ball.
Blyth then hit the bar again when Damen Mullen’s cross come shot beat Willis but rebounded harmlessly into open play.
Matlock provided the final action in an enthralling first half when McManus, a constant thorn in Blyth’s side, stormed forward and only a timely tackle by centre back Dillon Morse denied him a good goal scoring opportunity.
The second half began with the visitors on the offensive.
Following a surging run from midfield, Richardson delayed his shot and the chance was lost.
Richardson was then denied by Yates’ intervention before his free kick was only parried by Willis and Hutchinson could only fire over when stretching.
The equaliser did come, however, on 60 minutes when, after a five-man move, Richardson forced the ball past Willis at his near post.
Blyth came close to scoring a third when Reid just failed to connect with an Arran Wearmouth cross from three yards out.
It was Matlock who did take the lead after 76 minutes when a lob over the Blyth defence saw Jack Siddall in the clear and he expertly headed over Otte.
Willis in the Matlock goal was tested by a low Cartwright shot but the Derbyshire side extended their lead on 84 minutes when Ted Cribley ran purposely from midfield. He found McManus on the edge of the Blyth penalty box and he calmly stroked the ball between two defenders and past Otte.
Blyth were not finished and continued to try to take the game to Matlock with Maguire firing over.
But it was not to be Blyth’s day despite their best efforts in what was a thoroughly entertaining game.
Blyth Spartans: F Otte, A Cartwright, J Watson, D Morse, R Hutchinson, D Mullen, M Richardson, S Turnbull (A Wearmouth 68), D Maguire, M Wade, S Reid. Subs not used: P Robinson, N Hooks, D Parker, A Nicholson.