Matlock Town 1-1 FC United of Manchester
The spoils were shared as play off contenders Matlock and FC United could not find a winner at the Reynolds Stadium.
Danny Holland had shot Matlock in front on 17 minutes with United levelling eight minutes after the restart through Tom Greaves in front of Matlock’s highest crowd of the season of 978.
Compared to thrillers with the Reds in previous seasons at the Lane, this was mediocre fare but with the game on a knife edge it still had enough to grab fans attention right until the final whistle.
In the general scheme of things both sides would have wanted the win but as things worked out when results filtered through from elsewhere, the Gladiators had moved up to sixth with a lot of their rivals dropping points.
The hosts gave a league debut to former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Cecil Nyoni with Martin Foster having failed a fitness test. With Daryl Thomas still unfit, Bradley Grayson, who replaced him part way through the FA Trophy defeat at Chorley, partnered Holland in attack as Lewis McMahon had been sent on a month’s loan to Gainsborough Trinity.
The match was competitive throughout, but lacked the usual quality that both sides normally serve up to the noisy audience. Play was confined to midfield in the opening stages although United might have gone in front in the 11th minute when James Ashmore misjudged the pace of the ball in midfield and Greaves was left with a clear run at goal. But Jon Kennedy, in his final game before starting a three match ban, was out swiftly to block Greaves’ low shot and as the ball ran free, Adam Yates was quick to mop up and clear his lines.
Kennedy’s save looked to be doubly significant as the Gladiators swept into a 17th minute lead when Grayson burst into the box to find Corey Gregory. Goalkeeper Jon Worsnop managed to block Gregory’s low shot but HOLLAND was lurking with intent and he drove in the loose ball from twelve yards.
The shrill of referee Stuart Richardson’s whistle interrupted a lot of moves as both sides were caught offside a little too often and gave away a series of needless free kicks. Matlock threatened again on 29 minutes when Micky Harcourt’s hanging free kick was aimed for David Haggerty, who required treatment as Worsnop came out to punch clear taking Haggerty with him. The Town number five recovered after and would play a starring role at the heart of the Blues defence.
United looked uncertain in defence at times and Holland had a shot hacked clear as Matlock, holding the territorial advantage, deserved their half time advantage.
The visitors looked more businesslike after the interval and had more of the play but it was Matlock who generally had the better opportunities.
United drew level when from a chest high inswinging corner from the right, GREAVES flicked home.
But Town might have regained the lead three minutes later when skipper Liam Needham found Holland who flicked the ball over the advancing Worsnop before his effort dropped a little too late as it cleared the bar.
The contest was becoming increasingly tetchy and four players found their way into the referee’s notebook. Grayson joined United’s Matthew Wolfenden, skipper Dean Stott and Liam Brownhill on the yellow card list.
Holland looked to be the most dangerous striker on view. Stott denied him on the hour when a miscued clearance fell to him, conceding a corner, before a flick on from Haggerty saw Holland head goalwards and Worsnop doing well to keep the effort out.
Haggerty marshalled the back line well restricting United to just a low thirty yarder from Brownhill which Kennedy held efficiently. Given the amount of possession they had in the second period, United would be unhappy that they did not threaten more.
Late on substitute Lavell White fired into the sidenetting, Ashmore drove high over the bar on to the cricket pitch and Haggerty could have claimed a valuable extra two points but nodded Ashmore’s free kick wide.
That extra touch of class, or quality, was lacking.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Oscar Radford 4 Cecil Nyoni (14 Lavell White 56) 5 David Haggerty 6 Adam Yates 7 Liam Needham 8 James Ashmore 9 Danny Holland 10 Bradley Grayson 11 Corey Gregory Other subs: 12 Joe Leesley 15 Liam Gaughan 17 Matty Leese
FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER: 1 Jon Worsnop 2 Dean Stott 3 Liam Brownhill 4 David Birch 5 Tom Davies 6 Charlie Raglan 7 Rhodri Giggs (14 Matthew Walwyn 56) 8 Matthew Wolfenden 9 Tom Greaves 10 Callum Byrne (16 Chris Worsley 46, 15 Sergio Rodriguez 76), 11 Astley Mulholland Other subs: 12 Greg Daniels 17 Lewis Lacy
REFEREE: Mr S Richardson (Mansfield Woodhouse) ATTENDANCE: 978 BEST GLADIATOR: David Haggerty