An eventful encounter kicked off 15 minutes late with the Matlock team coach held up in horrendous traffic chaos on the M62 and in the opening half it seemed like Matlock were still on the coach.
Two sloppy goals were conceded and to add to their problems they lost midfielder Finlay Armond through a 16th minute red card for an over robust challenge on Mitch Lund, manager Martin Carruthers also receiving a red card for his protests in the aftermath.
After the magical 4-0 win against runaway league leaders Radcliffe in their previous game, this had all the hallmarks of being a banana skin for the Gladiators against a team who had parted company with their manager five days earlier and struggling just outside the relegation places in the NPL Premier Division.
Avenue were a goal to the good inside four minutes and it was all down to scorer Myles La Bastide, the young winger skipping past half hearted challenges in the Matlock penalty box before rifling his shot past Saul Deeney.
Town could have been two goals adrift in the tenth minute when Will Longbottom shot straight at Deeney when he should probably have scored.
Armond then saw red, followed by the manager Carruthers in what had been an awful start for Matlock. Lund, on the receiving end of Armond’s tackle was also booked for his reaction as tempers were lost.
With Matlock needing to get to half time no more than the one goal down, that objective was obliterated through more poor defending seconds from the whistle when after Brad Dockerty’s effort was charged down, La Bastide was quickest to react to fire the ball firmly home from eight yards.
Matlock brought on Ioan Evans for the second half in place of Alex Duhameau with Nathan Whitehead moving into midfield. Lund did well to block Anthony Dwyer’s stinging shot three minutes in, then Avenue lost La Bastide to injury.
But Matlock were right back in contention on 54 minutes. Joe West was released down the left following neat interplay by Jonny Margetts and Dwyer, the full-back’s cross as inviting as you could wish for and John Johnstone slid in to bundle home a neat finish.
Matlock came alive as panic set in to Bradford and that was emphasised even further when three minutes later, Lund brought down Margetts on the edge of the box to receive a second yellow and subsequent red to make it ten against ten.
Margetts notched his 25th goal of the season with 20 minutes left, Adam Yates delivering a smashing cross which Margetts cleverly glanced into the corner of the net for a beautifully crafted goal.
Evans nodded a corner directly at Richardson but with six minutes left there was pandemonium on the terraces behind Richardson’s goal as Johnston’s floated corner was headed powerfully in by Evans, a late wedding present for the defender who had tied the knot seven days earlier.
Avenue forced a number of corners but now Matlock were defending much better with Deeney dominant behind a back line that would now not relinquish their side’s advantage.