Gladiators show their metal.

With the new Covid lockdown coming in just over 24 hours, which will close down most of Non-League football for at least a month, I headed to Coalville where they were entertaining Matlock in a very interesting third qualifying round F.A. Trophy match. It was also mid way for myself Daughter and Son to meet to see one another.

Coalville is in the East Midlands not too far South of East Midlands Airport and as the name suggests was an ex mining town and was right in the centre of the North Leicestershire coal mining district.

The ground is just off the centre of town through an area of older terraced houses and where a new housing estate starts there is a turn into the carparks. The ground is a good standard considering that they have only been in Coalville since 1995 and further building is on going behind one goal.

The evening was clear with a large moon in the sky and a very slight drizzle in the air which felt cold to the bone. The football was soon to warm the spectators. The pitch looked wet with long grass cover and was overall flat but with some undulating areas.

Coalville moved from Ravenstone, where they were formed in 1926 as Ravenstone Miners Athletic, because they could not develop the ground and have since moved up the football pyramid from local football to now being members of the Southern Premier Division Central of which they are currently top. They were moved into this League in 2018 during one of the many restructurings. Although Matlock is only 30 miles North of Coalville they play in the Northern Premier League, Premier Division. So both teams were of the same level but North v South.

In Coalville’s history since relocating they have been losers in an F.A. Vase final at Wembley and reached the first round proper of the F,A, Cup in the 2004/5 season when they lost away to Wycombe Wanderers, all in all a good cup tradition. Matlock in contrast won the F.A. Trophy back in 1975 but have since not managed to regain those high standards. I have written previously about Matlock’s history (formed in 1878) in a previous post as they are my go to game on Boxing Day.

Coalville Town FC 3 Matlock Town FC 3

Coalville Town FC 2 Matlock Town FC 4 Decided on Penalties

Coalville immediately took control of the match which was played at a fast pace and it was no surprise that a brilliant through ball found Tim Berridge who didn’t hesitate to smash it into the net for the lead. Although Matlock had chances it fell to Berridge again on 37 minutes to run onto another fine pass and outsprint the Matlock defence to calmly place the ball past the advancing Matlock goalkeeper, Shaun Rowley. Half time soon came and Coalville looked comfortable with their two goal advantage. 

There was an amazing start to the second half when within a minute Matlock had one back as Reece Kendal evaded a group of defenders to head in a bouncing ball that should have been cleared. The momentum seemed to change immediately and Matlock gained the upper hand and equalised 7 minutes later when a pin point left foot free kick was met by Spencer Harris to head home. 

Matlock continued to have chances but Coalville hit the woodwork and the pace continued with chances for both sides. With only 15 minutes to go another great cross from the left was again met with the head, this time Declan Walker, and the ball flew just under the bar to give the Gladiators the lead for the first time in the match. There was no relaxing and Berridge the scorer of Coalvilles first two goals turned provider when he was able to place the ball to the back post where it was met by Luke Shaw for the equaliser, Wow.  There were plenty more thrills but no further goals and although the crowd of 362 would have relished extra time being played this year all ties are decided by penalties if the scores are equal at 90 minutes.

The penalties were taken at the end with the most Coalville fans and social distancing went out of the window as they encouraged their hero’s. Shaun Rowley made two excellent saves and Matlock didn’t miss any of their spot kicks to run out 4-2 winners.

What a great competitive game that showcased some very good football although the defensive coaches of both sides will have some things to say when next the player meet. Unfortunately we have no idea when football at this level will be able to continue and Matlock await a date to play away at Coleshill in the next round.


The chips looked good for just £1.50 and crinkle chips too. However although hot they were greasy and I could still taste what they they were cooked in at half time. A disappointment and a low score of 58.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s