EASTWOOD TOWN 3-3 MATLOCK TOWN – Evo Stik NPL
Matlock’s ten men had to settle for a point as the basement club secured a draw with a last minute equaliser from captain Romaine Graham.
It had been a disjointed Matlock performance with the problem being that the visitors failed to stamp any authority on the early proceedings which were stale and unimaginitive from both sides.
Whether Matlock thought they had to merely turn up to gain the three points cannot be proven but they should certainly have performed better than they did, particularly in the first half.
To give credit where credit’s due, they turned the game round in the second half in spite of their numerical disadvantage, the sending off coming as early as the 23rd minute when Micky Harcourt went in hard on Scott Rogers. Referee Eddie Smart had no hesitation in brandishing a red card but the challenge may have looked worse than it actually was. Nevertheless it was a blow that Matlock could have done without and could have been avoided.
The Gladiators twice found themselves behind before going in front in a better second half.
Eastwood drew first blood from the game’s first noteworthy chance in the 15th minute as ADAM CAMPBELL was unmarked to head in a cross from the left by Rogers.
But Matlock were level within four minutes as man of the match JAMES ASHMORE shot firmly over the head of goalkeeper Richard Stainsby from the edge of the box following a neat lay off from Massiah McDonald, who then saw a venemous shot flash a foot wide of an upright .
The flashpoint of Harcourt’s dismissal was even more expensive as the hosts immediately went back on front. Bradley Grayson was sacrificed with Laurence Gaughan coming on and when Matlock failed to clear the free kick, a shot from JAKE GREEN had Jon Kennedy motionless as it went in off a post.
So the outlook appeared bleak for Matlock who had given a second debut to Lee Featherstone, who had returned from Sheffield FC to replace the departed Phil Roe in the one change to thye side who had drawn with Ashton United seven days earlier.
It could have been more depressing as Featherstone managed to block a goalbound strike from Lavell White and Gregg Smith then headed too high when well placed.
The half time whistle gave Matlock time to regroup as they needed to increase the tempo after the break. They succeeded as Eastwood surprisingly took their foot off the gas and allowed Matlock to gain the upper hand. Adam Yates shot too high and then drove speculatively wide.
Quality was needed and ASHMORE provided it when his second goal gave the Gladiators a second equaliser on 65 minutes.
McDonald forced a corner when his power packed shot was parried by Stainsby with home player boss Chris Shaw happy to hack the loose ball out for a corner.
But the flag kick was not properly cleared and Ashmore’s superb first time angled shot found the far corner with unerring accuracy, one that the world’s best goalkeepers would not have stopped.
Five minutes later the visitors went in front when McDonald teed up MARTIN FOSTER whose low 18 yard drive beat Stainsby’s vain dive.
Ashmore had visions of a hat-trick as a long distance effort dropped just wide and Matlock looked comfortable. Good play from McDonald on the right saw him cross low across the danger area with nobody there to convert.
But with the contest entering stoppage time, Graham, up supplementing the Badgers’s strike force was allowed a free header which comprehensively beat Kennedy following a break up the left and give Eastwood just their twelfth point of the season and their fourth against Matlock.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1. Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Lee Featherstone 4 Martin Foster 5 Oscar Radford 6 James Lukic 7 Bradley Grayson (12 Laurence Gaughan 24) 8 James Ashmore 9 MassiahMcDonald 10 Adam Yates 11 Anthony Griffiths-Junior (Joe Leesley 88) Other subs: 15 Will Dennis 17 Nick Buxton
REFEREE: E Smart–Birmingham ATTENDANCE: 178 STAR MAN: James Ashmore