Matlock Town 1-0 Ilkeston FC
Danny Holland was the hero as his late goal earned Matlock a deserved victory in Saturday’s local derby at the Reynolds Stadium.
It was fitting that Holland hit the headlines for he had been far the most dangerous forward on view and he could and probably should have scored earlier which would have made Matlock’s task far easier.
There were just six minutes of the regulatory ninety left when Micky Harcourt hoisted a cross deep into the Robins’ penalty box. Defender Joe Maguire could not find sufficient power in his clearing header under pressure from substitute Lewis McMahon and HOLLAND, lurking with intent just inside the eighteen yard area, wrapped his boot around the ball superbly to smack a fine finish past Lloyd Allinson.
The win saw the Gladiators and the Robins swap places in the table as only the nine more goals scored by Ilkeston, with the teams level on points and goal difference, had the visitors in court compared to Matlock’s pre match fifth position.
It was a game that took a while to get going. James Reid, whose two late goals had nicked the Derbyshire Senior Cup from Matlock’s grasp back in April, was well off target twice in the opening twenty minutes, while former Robin Darryl Thomas skied an effort well over the bar and on to the cricket pitch.
Allinson blocked a 22nd minute header from Holland but the offside flag had gone up before Jon Kennedy easily held a header from Aaron Hooton from a free kick by former Burton Albion defender Aaron Webster.
Clear cut chances were scarce early on and Matlock skipper Liam Needham drove high over the bar before Joe Leesley became the first of three bookings for a hard challenge on Danny Gordon on the half way line.
But Matlock then began to stamp some authority on proceedings as Corey Gregory had a shot charged down and Needham pulled a shot well wide after neat build up play from Holland. The Gladiators exerted a grip on midfield where veteran Martin Foster was outstanding alongside his skipper Needham.
Chances suddenly became more clear cut and only a fine save from Allinson off a fiercely struck Holland drive following unselfish play from Thomas kept the scoresheet blank on 35 minutes.
Two minutes later Holland headed a hanging Leesley cross on to the roof of the net before only a tremendous tackle from Ellis Storey stopped Needham who was set to pull the trigger after bursting strongly into the heart of the penalty box.
A great chance went begging for the hosts though two minutes from half time when Thomas skipped around Allinson who had come charging out of his penalty area. A short pass found Holland whose shot cannoned off the post and Ilkeston then got back en masse to block Holland’s follow up.
The second period, like the first began cautiously with Reid shooting tamely and harmlessly wide before Allinson blocked a strike from Gregory.
Ilkeston created little of note and the gilt edged chance they did get came from a bad error by Adam Yates whose severely underhit back pass let in Hooton who set up Reid, only for him to lift his shot against the bar with the goal gaping.
That 56th minute escape spurred Matlock on and McMahon, last season’s top marksman, made a welcome return after five weeks out with an ankle injury, replacing Thomas just before the hour.
The Gladiators played some neat football but just needed that killer touch. Holland headed a Leesley cross straight at Allinson on 73 minutes before Micky Harcourt swerved a twenty yarder wide after another build up which was pleasing on the eye. Holland then pulled an effort across the face of the goal as the pressure became more sustained before Holland struck the winner which had been coming.
Harcourt joined Leesley in the book for dissent near the end with Ilkeston skipper Laurie Wilson, surprisingly playing at full back, being the other culprit.
Matlock looked in no danger after the goal and comfortably earned the three valuable points.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Joe Leesley 4 Martin Foster 5 David Haggerty 6 Adam Yates 7 Liam Needham 8 Corey Gregory 9 Danny Holland 10 Darryl Thomas (16 Lewis McMahon 59) 11 Lavell White (15 James Ashmore 85) Other subs: 12 Bradley Grayson 14 Oscar Radford 17 Matty Leese
ILKESTON FC: 1 Lloyd Allinson 2 Laurie Wilson 3 Aaron Webster 4 Danny Gordon (14 Che Adams 86) 5 Joe Maguire 6 Ellis Storey
7 Jason Stokes 8 Callum Chettle (15 Akil Wright 58) 9 Aaron Hooton (17 Le Jaun Simmons 86) 10 James Reid 11 Kane Richards
Other subs: 12 Matt Baker 16 Michael Williams
REFEREE: T Nield (Holmfirth) ATTENDANCE: 498 BEST GLADIATOR: Danny Holland