Matlock Town 1-2 Ilkeston FC – Derbyshire Senior Cup Final
Matlock were edging towards Derbyshire Senior Cup glory at Chesterfield’s Pro-Act Stadium on Tuesday when they led Ilkeston with two minutes to go.
But then Robins’ substitute James Reid dramatically whipped the trophy from under their noses with one piece of brilliance and then a hotly disputed penalty which had Matlock fuming.
The Gladiators certainly did not deserve to lose. They had looked the more dangerous side throughout and had they taken their first half opportunities, they would have been home and dry.
Micky Harcourt and Adam Yates were back in the Gladiators back four but skipper James Lukic, with cracked ribs sustained in last week’s home win against Kendal, missed out.
The game got off to a blistering start with Ilkeston immediately on the attack to win a corner on the left which Joe Maguire headed comfortably over. Matlock’s response was instant and one which ought to have put them in front. Lavelle White had a clear shooting chance from the left but drove against goalkeeper Chris Martin’s legs before Lewis McMahon’s shot from the rebound was also charged down.
McMahon then lifted a twenty five yarder too high after captain Martin Foster had cut out a faulty clearance from Russell Cooke.
As they had done in the opening seconds, Ilkeston’s Maguire was again off target with a header from a set piece but it was Matlock playing the more controlled football and looking the more likely to break the deadlock.
White failed with another presentable chance on 24 minutes when McMahon slipped a neat pass into his path, again Martin was down quickly and effectively to block.
The interval arrived with the final scoreless and on a knife-edge.
Just fifteen seconds after the restart Gareth Davies drove yards too high before the Ilkeston response came from McDonald’s foul on Kane Richards, who had an on loan spell at Matlock from Derby County earlier in the campaign. The free kick was played short to Kane’s cousin Matt whose firmly driven centre hit Aaron Hooton and bounced out for a goal-kick.
McDonald was harshly booked for a 52nd minute foul on Maguire, following Foster who had been shown the yellow card in the opening half for catching Matt Richards. Inept Belper referee Mark Sutton would play the key role later on.
Sutton could have dismissed Ellis Storey rather than brandish a yellow card for pulling back McDonald who had a clear run at goal, but then booked Davies for a bit of chit-chat.
After Matt Richards had driven a yard wide from distance, Buxton held a Hooton header before Matlock drew first blood in the 67th minute.
A tremendous dipping thirty yard blast from Harcourt brought an equally brilliant fingertip over the bar from Martin, but from the corner, McMAHON found space to flick home a header for his 24th goal of the season.
Ilkeston boss Kevin Wilson immediately made a double change bringing on Reid and James Cullingworth for Danny Gordon and Storey.
Hooton sliced a couple of yards wide from the edge of the box and McMahon twice went desperately close to doubling the Blues’ lead, his first effort being deflected wide before his second attempt flashed past Martin’s right hand post after James Ashmore and substitute Ben Algar had fashioned the chance.
But with just two minutes left, REID smacked home a marvellous twenty five yard effort which drifted away from Buxton’s dive to the right and went in off the inside of the post.
Then as the final entered stoppage time and a penalty shoot-out looked odds on with extra time not catered for, Sutton angered Matlock again and this time the most.
Ilkeston won a corner on the left and as the excellent Yates rose to head clear he was pushed in the back, the ball striking his hand.
The official pointed to the spot, an entirely baffling decision, and after the protests had died down and Yates had received treatment, REID blasted sublimely into the corner to complete the turnround.
It was a cruel way to lose, and perhaps a lucky way to win as Kevin Wilson admitted afterwards, but those two minutes probably summed up the Gladiators season.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Nick Buxton 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Lee Featherstone (14 Ben Algar 66) 4 Martin Foster 5 Adam Yates 6 Oscar Radford 7 Gareth Davies 8 James Ashmore 9 Massiah McDonald (15 Joe Leesley 85) 10 Lewis McMahon 11 Lavelle White.
Subs not used: 12 Will Dennis 16 James Travis 17 Matt Leese
REFEREE: M Sutton-Belper ATTENDANCE:1110 STAR GLADIATOR: Adam Yates