Matlock Town were held to a 1-1 draw with Hyde United a week on from the tragic death of midfielder Jordan Sinnott.
Matlock Town Play First Match Since Death of Jordan Sinnott
An early goal for the visitors appeared to nullify the hosts in the first-half before a red card gave them the springboard to level soon after the restart.
Sinnott passed away in the early hours of last Saturday after he was assaulted in Retford, Nottinghamshire.
There were tributes throughout the afternoon to the Alfreton Town loanee who had previously played for Huddersfield and Chesterfield.
A wreath was laid on the pitch prior to kick-off before the players, staff and crowd paid tribute to the 25-year-old with a minute’s applause.
An Even Match
Hyde United opened the scoring inside the first 10 minutes when Matlock keeper Jonathan Stewart spilt Liam Tongue’s long-range free-kick and Tom Pratt smashed home the rebound.
Piteu Crouz could’ve levelled for the hosts when he met a bouncing ball on the six-yard line but it went just wide of the top corner.
Referee Oliver Mackey then halted play on 25 minutes for the entire ground to pay their respects once more with another minute’s applause.
The Gladiators were fortunate to not have been two goals behind when Hyde counter-attacked but Paddy Lane could not get on the end of Sheffield United loanee Iliman Ndiaye’s through-ball.
The bumper crowd at the Proctor Cars Stadium saw a feisty affair with three players entering the book in the first 45 minutes alone.
The second-half brought rain to add to the already windy conditions in Derbyshire but Matlock were soon handed a lifeline.
Kyle Brownhill tripped dangerman Piteu Crouz on the edge of the box and was handed his second booking of the day.
The subsequent free-kick by Crouz rattled the crossbar but Matlock could smell blood.
On 53 minutes, Crouz did find the net, hooking a loose ball into the bottom corner from close-range.
The whole Matlock side celebrated by running over to the dugout where they held aloft a jersey with ‘Sinnott 25’ on the back.
The hosts continued to dominate proceedings but were denied by the crossbar again on 69 minutes, Chib Chilaka the unlucky player this time.
As the minutes ticked on, Hyde looked to protect their hard-fought point and managed the game in a tactical manner, frustrating Matlock with numerous fouls.
There were calls for a late penalty when the ball appeared to blatantly hit the arm of a United defender but to the majority of the crowd’s dismay, nothing was given.
Matlock were forced to settle for a point when the result seemed unimportant given the last seven days.
What They Said
Matlock Town manager Paul Phillips, in charge for the first time, said: “I went in the dressing room without probably meeting half the players last week.
“I had to give them news that you don’t want to give anyone.
“So it’s been a tough week but, again for me, we’ve conducted ourselves magnificently as a group.
“You do learn about the characters and there were a lot of things overriding today, that (meant they) could’ve taken their eye off the ball, going behind.
“ut that shows you the character we’ve got in there, (it) shows the determination that we’ve got and the will to win.
“100% they showed great character; you wouldn’t have blamed them for going a goal down on a day like today.
“A lot of other things were going on off the pitch, but they didn’t [get distracted].”
On how the club have dealt with the events of the last week, Phillips added: “I knew it was a great club but how they’ve dealt with it this week it’s absolutely fantastic.
“I don’t think a professional club, a Premier League club could’ve dealt with it how we’ve dealt with it this week and that’s as a group of players as well.
“Now we’ve got to make sure we remember and do things in that honour by getting out of this mess that we’re in and try and win the two cups we’re involved in as well.
“So we’ve got something to show for at the end of the season in Jordan’s memory.”