Ossett Albion 2-2 Matlock Town
Matlock twice led but could have no complaints at having to settle for a draw from a useful and competitive visit to Evo-StikFirst Division North Albion last Saturday.
The hosts had four decent chances to add to the two second half chances they converted, but wasted the lot as Matlock went to sleep in defence.
So the Gladiators would have been happy with the draw, but felt the opposite in the way they let Ossett back into the contest when they looked in control.
A first appearance of pre-season for Lee Featherstone ended prematurely when the full back was forced off with a recurrence of a calf injury inside the opening eighteen minutes.
By that point midfielder Liam Needham had forced home custodian Adam Rhodes into action while Matlock’s Jon Kennedy saved from Brad Riley twice, the second shot at the expense of a corner headed harmlessly over by Henry Owen.
Matlock then assumed control and after Danny Holland had crossed from the left, Lewis McMahon whipped the ball straight off Corey Gregory who was poised to fire goalwards. Then Holland completely missed his kick after a fine run and centre by Joe Leesley.
Long range attempts from both Needham and McMahon drifted wide with both aiming to capitalise with Rhodes badly out of position.
Holland drove and headed separate opportunities over the bar and was then crowded out before ANTON FOSTER poked a low shot under Rhodes following indecision in the home defence a minute before the interval to edge Matlock in front.
Oscar Radford tried his luck from distance only to see the ball sail comfortably too high as the second half got under way but warning signs for Matlock were soon evident.
Riley forced Kennedy to push away his shot for a corner from which Matlock broke swiftly for Holland to shoot over from an intelligent pull back from substitute Darryl Thomas.
But another Albion corner saw them draw level on 53 minutes, a flick on at the near post being met by OWEN who netted with a firm downward header.
Matlock needed just ninety seconds to regain the lead as THOMAS’ pace saw him break clinically through the Albion rearguard and score with a thumping drive in off the underside of the bar. Thomas looked to be within sight of goal again but Holland’s pass was a touch too strong.
Kurtis Noble got the better of Micky Harcourt but shot too high as the hosts sought a second equaliser which might have come when substitute Kevin Quinn lost out to Kennedy who superbly thwarted him in a one on one duel.
Leesley drove wide from twenty five yards after a purposeful thrust up the left but had to share some of the blame when NOBLE wriggled along the edge of the box from the right before burying a crisp low shot past Kennedy in the 74th minute.
Almost immediately Quinn blasted over and then sliced wide as Matlock were getting caught too square at the back for both manager Mark Atkins’ and the visiting fans’ liking.
Atkins will again have learned a lot about his side, both good and bad. Plus points came with the midfield displays of new signing Liam Needham and James Ashmore, but defensively they looked susceptible on the day, needing the extra pace and vision of the absent Adam Yates.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Lee Featherstone 4 Anton Foster 5 David Haggerty 6 Oscar Radford 7 Corey Gregory 8 James Ashmore 9 Danny Holland 10 Lewis McMahon 11 Liam Needham Subs used: Joe Leesley, Darryl Thomas, Lavelle White,
Gareth Davies, Liam Gaughan, Jordan Snodin.
REFEREE:C Hainsworth–Wakefield ATTENDANCE: 81