WITTON ALBION 1-0 MATLOCK TOWN
Matlock had only themselves to blame for not winning a game they dominated.
Eighteenth placed Witton took all three points as they converted one of the very few opportunities they created while in contrast a generous Matlock squandered theirs, including two excellent ones shortly after Anthony Gardner’s 20th minute match winner.
The defeat saw Matlock slide down to tenth spot and until the Gladiators cash find that magic formula to find the onion bag on a more regular basis, there could be more days like this.
Performance wise there was little to complain about. They did everything but score as much of the game was a duel of attack versus defense which Witton won by keeping the clean sheet.
Debutant goalkeeper Jonathan Hedge, brought in on a month’s loan from Grimsby Town, had little else to do. Probably his most strenuous act was to bend down to collect the ball from the back of the net when Witton scored.
He had little chance of stopping the shot as full back Gardner’s finish was clinical from Witton’s best move of the match. They worked the ball around slickly from the left around the Gladiators penalty box and GARDNER was up supplementing the attacking options as he rifled a low drive beyond Hedge from the right.
It was a fine finish, one that Matlock could have done with. Just a minute after going behind, the Gladiators should really have equalized. They won a corner on the right which was floated to the back post giving Bradley Grayson a clear and unchallenged header. But with the goal gaping, he glanced wide.
Four minutes later there was another great opportunity, albeit a touch more difficult one when Micky Harcourt raced down the right to deliver an inviting pin point cross which Danny Holland nodded wide with only goalkeeper Matt to beat. So from going one down, Matlock really should have been quickly in front.
Cooper organized the defense well putting in a faultless display while central defenders Ben Harrison and Robert Bodie were outstanding as they answered all of the questions led of them, and there were numerous ones at that.
Matlock knocked on the door for the remainder of the half but Witton slammed it shut in their faces.
At half time manager Mark Atkins went to add width by bringing on Lavell White for James Ashmore. The second half was all Matlock but again they could not finish off many promising situations. One goal would probably have led to more but that one goal was elusive.
White drove over the bar when well placed on 53 minutes before Joe Leesley came on in an attacking role. He added urgency but at the same time Matlock’s desperation increased.
Grayson chose to shoot from a seemingly impossible angle and his drive flew behind. It was clearly the wrong option but probably summed up Matlock’s decision making in front of goal. Both Holland and Leesley had efforts charged down before Liam Needham drove inches wide from twenty yards. Late on Cooper made a magnificent stop from Leesley to secure the points for the hosts.
Matlock are now without a league win in five outings and in that time just three goals have been scored.
The positives are the defensive solidarity as apart from a Michael Powell free kick and a Danny Andrews scooped effort over the top before their goal, Witton created very little. But had the Gladiators had someone to finish off their excellent approach play with Martin Foster and Needham in charge in midfield, they would probably have won comfortably. Here is where their frustration lies.
WITTON ALBION: 1 Matthew Cooper 2 Anthony Gardner 3 Alistair Brown 4 Ben Harrison 5 Robert Jonathan Breeze 7 Jonathan Dawson (15 Neville Thompson 70), 8 Michael Powell 9 Adam Parkhouse 10Aaron Rey 11 Danny Andrews Subs not used: 12 Michael Moseley 14 Joshua Crofts 16 Joshua Hancock 17 Stuart Plant
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jonathan Hedge 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Oscar Radford 4 Martin Foster 5 David Haggerty 6 Adam Yates 7 Liam Needham 8 James Ashmore (16 Lavell White 46) 9 Danny Holland 10 Bradley Grayson 11 Corey Gregory (14 Joe Leesley 62) Subs not used: 12 Lee Featherstone 15 Cecil Nyoni 17 Matty Leese
REFEREE: M Jones (Stafford) ATTENDANCE: 328 BEST GLADIATOR: Martin Foster.