TOWN manager Paul Quinn was delighted with attitude and commitment of his players which saw them gain three points and an early season double against a physical Maltby side.
The win was even more impressive as Town played for almost an hour with only 10 men after Anthony Haigh was sent off for retaliating to an aggressive challenge.
The good news for Town was they were already two goals ahead by that and Quinn was able to adjust the formation of the side knowing he did not need to chase the game.
The players responded with a battling team display.
Town took the lead with one of the fastest goals in the club’s history. Greg Porter played the ball to Danny Naidole who beat home keeper Jamie Bailey with a shot from the edge of the box after only 28 seconds!
Town dominated and soon scored again when a ball to the far post by Haigh was expertly steered past the keeper by Naidole to make it 2-0 after only nine minutes.
He came close to a hat-trick on 14 minutes when his free-kick for a foul on Hamilton was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Bailey.
Maltby’s first effort on goal came after 19 minutes when Ben Langford’s shot crashed against the Town crossbar.
Town continued to look dangerous through Haigh.First his low shot following a corner was a yard off target and then he had a similar effort on goal after Hamilton had laid the ball into his path.
Maltby threatened through Rob Branagan but Town keeper Ben Imeson saved well.
Town were reduced to 10 men on 33 minutes with Haigh’s sending off, but the players reacted well and upped the workrate to compensate for the loss.
This was typified by midfielders Danny Hull and Greg Porter who stood up manfully to the physical challenge but also showed great discipline and tactical awareness to keep to their task in front of the back four.
Alex O’Keefe, who was promoted from the reserves after some outstanding recent displays, showed maturity by curbing his natural attacking instincts down the left flank to play to instructions by tucking into the midfield and filling gaps created by the loss of Haigh.
He nearly crowned a good performance with a goal five minutes before the break when his run across the face of the box and rasping drive brought a spectacular save from Bailey.
In the first minute of the second half, Langford crashed a shot against the Town crossbar and when the ball came back to Michael Jones, Imeson pulled off a fine reaction save.
The outstanding Steve Hollingworth came to Town’s rescue with a superbly timed tackle on Branagan only eight yards out.
Imeson then made a smart low save from Langford and Branagan was again denied by another saving tackle from Hollingworth who, along with Josh Williams, were solid under pressure.
Fullbacks James Sutcliffe and Tom Brown were also on their game, so the Town back four were the foundation for this win.
It took until midway through the half before Town had their first effort on goal; Naidole fed O’Keefe who brought a near post save from Bailey before being replaced by Wayne Crossley. Maltby threatened again on 70 minutes but Williams made an important block.
Two minutes later Town won a free kick on the edge of the Maltby box, Sutcliffe’s shot was blocked and Shane Hamilton could not find the target with the rebound.
Branagan had a couple of chances first firing wide after a great pass from Whittington and then Sutcliffe defended well to deny him at the back post.
Quinn introduced fresh legs with Jacob Lever replacing Naidole.
Town had one last scare when Imeson, whose handling was impeccable throughout the game, pulled off a far post save from Jones’ header.
In stoppage time, Lever nearly extended Town’s lead when he was sent clear by Hull’s pass but Bailey saved.
Quinn and assistant Barry Thomas were rightly proud of their players and the team spirit and togetherness shown by them was impressive.