Matlock’s bewildering start to the season continued as an average but well drilled Rushall side inflicted another heavy defeat on them.
But the injury stricken Gladiators, missing no fewer than eight players who would have made the first team squad, including their central midfield components, gave as good as they got for the opening sixty minutes and were unfortunate to trail to Steve Abbott’s 29th minute strike.
Then another devastating injury as Brad Grayson was helped off with hamstring trouble, likely to keep him out for eight weeks, hampered them further, with replacement Ryan Hindley having a “goal” chalked off for offside three minutes before the interval.
Matlock remained in the game until Lei Smith struck the first of his brace with twenty minutes to go. Even then Matlock had a chance when Lee Ellington was pulled back by Louis Keenan who received a yellow rather than the statutory red card. But Ellington casually chipped his penalty on to the bar and Rushall survived the scramble which followed. Smith compounded Matlock’s woes with his second and Rushall’s third with twelve minutes remaining.
Rushall were probably the wrong side to face given Town;s injury situation. The Pics are a no nonsense, direct side with little finesse, but they play to their strengths. it’s not exhilarating to watch but mighty effective, and it gave them their fourth league win out of four games played.
Town welcomed back skipper James Lukic who noticeably organised he home defence into a more resilient unit. They stood firm as Jon Kennedy held a deflected Brown shot and Luke Foster blocked from Michael Clarke.
In between these attacks a promising Grayson cross was cleared and then Adam Yates, pushed forward into midfield with Town short of engine room players, delivered a fine cross from the right which Rushall bundled clear.
Ellington headed a Grayson cross directly at Gemmell on 19 minutes, quickly followed by Ellington’s centre which the supporting Phil Roe was an ace away from reaching.
A quickly taken Matlock free kick saw Gemmell grab possession off Nathan Joynes, making his first appearance of the campaign. The game then flared up Lukic went in hard on Dave Walker resulting in lectures for both the Gladiators skipper and his compatriot Wayne Daniel.
Shortly afterwards Rushall went in front when following a right wing corner, the ball broke to STEVE ABBOTT who drove firmly home from twelve yards. Hammer blows in life can come in threes, emphasised by the goal, Grayson;s injury and Hindley’s disallowed goal on 42 minutes.
Roe glanced a Martin Foster cross narrowly wide and Ellington drove at Gemmell in a promising start to the new half by Matlock. But the penetration was missing as the hosts were nearly caught out as Kennedy saved well from Michael Clarke after Ryan Laight took out Walker in the build up and was booked.
BROWN fired wide before doubling the visitors’ lead and giving Matlock a mountain to climb. That ascent should have been made easier but was wasted by Ellington’s showboat spot kick. BROWN sealed the Walsall side;s win by curling their third goal in off a post from twenty yards.
MATLOCK TOWN : Jon Kennedy, Ryan Laight (Joe Leesley 64), Lee Featherstone, Martin Foster, Luke Foster, James Lukic, Bradley Grayson (Ryan Hindley 32), Adam Yates, Lee Ellington, Nathan Joynes, Phil Roe Subs not used: Roey Coleman, Kris Witcombe, Nick Buxton
REFEREE: M Dwyer–Castleford ATTENDANCE: 282 STAR MAN: James Lukic