RUSHALL OLYMPIC 0-4 MATLOCK TOWN – Evo Stik NPL
It was a Merry Christmas for Matlock who chalked up their highest win of the season at Dales Lane on a soggy Boxing Day afternoon.
A Massiah McDonald brace plus a Jacob Hazel header and a Lewis McMahon spot kick saw an impressive and hard working Gladiators side home to completely deflate a Rushall side who missed a penalty when they were just one goal in arrears shortly before half time.
With Micky Harcourt starting a two game ban, Adam Yates switched to right back with the central defensive duo being Oscar Radford and James Lukic. Phil Roe returned at left back and with Hazel and McDonald as the striking spearhead, McMahon slotted in just behind them with Glyn Cotton, James Ashmore and Gareth Davies in the engine room.
Rushall had won 3-0 at the Reynolds Stadium but a repeat was never on the cards here.
Both sides forced early corners which came to nothing before an acrobatic overhead effort from the experienced Dave Walker narrowly cleared the bar with Jon Kennedy scrambling to watch it to safety on 6 minutes.
A promising Matlock opening came to nothing as the pitch held up a McMahon pass bound for McDonald shortly before Ashmore’s pass released McDonald and home goalkeeper Chris Gemmell was well positioned to block the Matlock number nine’s near post drive.
But when giant defender Wayne Daniel’s mistimed challenge on Hazel in the 16th minute was deened illegal, McMAHON confidently stepped up to send Gemmell the wrong way from the spot to set Town on their victory trail.
Matlock then had to withstand a period of Rushall pressure but it again was an unorthodox overhead shot this time from midfielder Josh Craddock which was too high.
A Lukic shot was deflected wide in a speedy and dangerous Matlock break and although Kennedy was largely untroubled, he did breathe a huge sigh of relief on 38 minutes when a Danny Bragoli headed slithered under him and over the line in the greasy conditions but the effort was ruled out for offside.
Mitchell Tolley slammed his spot kick against and then over the bar on 43 minutes after Lukic was ruled to have fouled the lively Ahmed Obeng and this proved to be a key moment in the game. McDonald might have made Tolley and Rushall feel even worse before the interval as he forced Gemmell into a fine save after being set free by Ashmore.
Matlock made their intentions crystal clear in the opening ten minutes of the second period and were unlucky not to extend their lead.
Rushall hung on as a McDonald centre and an Ashmore shot were both blocked before Ashmore drove wide by a whisker after McDonald had knocked down a cross by Yates. Then a Cotton shot was deflected inches wide after excellent approach play by McMahon and Hazel. Shortly afterwards an outstanding attempt from McDonald brought an equally great save from Gemmell and from the resulting corner the goalkeeper held Ashmore’s shot.
The Pics responded with a spell of pressure for ten minutes when Matlock had to stand firm and when the defence was breached, Kennedy was on hand to push away an Obeng strike on 62 minutes.
But four minutes later the Gladiators doubled their lead as Roe’s fine through ball saw McDONALD canter from the half way line and calmly stroke a fine finish beyond Gemmell.
Then only a marvellous interception by Tolley prevented McDonald from scoring again but Rushall’s relief soon turned to despair as from the corner HAZEL rose to plant his header past Gemmell for two Town goals in three minutes.
Joe Leesley replaced the Chesterfield loanee and was soon knocking on the Rushall door with Gemmell denying him from McDonald’s assist. It was soon four though for on 75 minutes Ashmore played in McDONALD who once more had pace to burn. The finish was also calm and concise as Matlock looked like scoring on every excursion forward.
Leesley struck the base of a post with four minutes remaining before came the one nagging worry from a great away day as Lukic was helped off with a groin injury after stretching to complete a clearance.
Rushall had conceded only twenty one goals in seventeen games beforehand to boast one of the best defensive records in the division. Matlock opened them up with consumate ease and thoroughly deserved their victory.
The PA system played “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” as the players left the field. That is all the Pics could do after a defeat which they would consider as unexpected more for its gravity than anything else.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Adam Yates 3 Phil Roe 4 Glyn Cotton 5 Oscar Radford 6 James Lukic ( 15 Laurence Gaughan 88), 7 Jacob Hazel ( 12 Joe Leesley 71) 8 James Ashmore 9 Massiah McDonald 10 Lewis McMahon 11 Gareth Davies (14 Martin Foster 85) Subs not used: 16 Lee Ellington 17 Nick Buxton
REFEREE: G Taylor-Wednesfield ATTENDANCE: 162 STAR MAN: Massiah McDonald