Nantwich Town 1-1 Matlock Town
Matlock should really have brought all three points back from the Weaver Stadium on Saturday after dominating the opening half and although Nantwich fought back with spirit after the interval, it was a missed opportunity of a league double over the Dabbers.
On another day Danny Holland, back from suspension, could easily have finished with a hat-trick. He put Matlock into a 12th minute lead but unluckily struck the woodwork twice before being unable to convert a good second half chance.
Holland was one of two changes made by boss Mark Atkins after the win against Whitby which also saw skipper Liam Nedham recalled after injury in midfield. Corey Gregory and Lavell White dropped to the bench and the Gladiators played three strikers with Massiah McDonald and Shaun Tuton up alongside Holland.
Matlock showed their intent straight from the kick off as Tuton bulldozed his way through the home defence to force goalkeeper Steve James to push away his low shot for a corner.
Then on 7 minutes Holland hit the frame of the goal for the first time, his header from a Tuton cross rebounding off the post with James beaten.
As the pressure was maintained, Micky Harcourt, playing at left back with James Ashmore on the right, glanced a header narrowly wide from a free kick.
The goal which had been coming arrived when Cecil Nyoni did well to win possession some thirty yards out before feeding HOLLAND who crisply shot past James for an excellent finish.
Matlock kept up the intensity in their play as Martin Foster’s shot was deflected over and from the corner an Adam Yates header drifted wide before McDonald was unlucky to see his effort blocked as he met a Tuton centre.
There was an element of comedy as referee Harty was floored by a Nantwich clearance, but there was little fun for the hosts at this stage as they were being outplayed. Nothing had been seen from Nantwich as an attacking force and there was another chance for Matlock three minutes before the break. The ball fell invitingly to Needham whose well struck shot whistled narrowly too high.
So Matlock went in for their half time refreshment a goal to the good but perhaps reflecting it could have been more.
Holland was again unfortunate as his 48th minute header from a Needham cross rebounded off the bar with again James well beaten.
And Nantwich made the most of this latest escape when they levelled in the next minute. Andy White floated in a free kick from the left and nobody picked up substitute ALEX FROST who scored with a free header which was a really sloppy goal from the Matlock perspective.
Now for the first time in the contest, Nantwich looked dangerous as Alex Meaney drove forward from midfield to see his twenty five yard shot deflected wide.
But Holland might have won it for Matlock on 71 minutes when he was clear on goal but James did well to save his initial effort before he fired his follow up attempt wide.
A freak incident might have seen the Gladiators return home with nothing as a bouncing ball bobbled awkwardly over Jon Kennedy who then saved the day by tipping the loose ball out for an unproductive corner.
James then ensured Nantwich a share of the spoils with a fine stop from Tuton, but Matlock will look back on two points slipping away from what was generally a sound and dominating performance.
NANTWICH TOWN: 1 Steve James 2 Josh Eastwood (17 Alex Frost 10) 3 Andy White 4 Mark Jones 5 Earl Davis 6 Sam Wilson 7 Peter Green (14 Ben Deegan 63) 8 Alex Meaney 9 Steve Foster (16 Aaron Burns 83), 10 Harry Clayton 11 Nick Haughton Other subs: 12 Andy Keogh 15 Oliver Devenney
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 James Ashmore 4 Martin Foster (14 Corey Gregory 52) 5 Oscar Radford 6 Adam Yates 7 Liam Needham 8 Cecil Nyoni (12 Lavell White 83) 9 Danny Holland 10 Shaun Tuton 11 Massiah McDonald (16 Jack Broadhead 63) Other subs: 15 Daryll Thomas 17 Matty Leese
REFEREE: T Harty (Wolverhampton) ATTENDANCE: 227 BEST GLADIATOR: Danny Holland