TRAFFORD 0-0 MATLOCK TOWN
Matlock will take the positives from this drab opening day encounter at Shawe View which unsurprisingly finished goalless.
Exactly twelve months ago they were beaten on the same ground so that is an improvement for a start. But the only other positive is a clean sheet which really was not a difficult achievement as Trafford, like the Gladiators, lacked any real threat going forward.
Manager Mark Atkins gave starting places to three of his eleven summer recruits with Jason Stokes featuring on the right flank, Josh Meade operating in central midfield with Zeph Thomas partnering Danny Holland in attack. Three more fresh faces were on the substitutes bench in Leon Osborne, Niall Dawkins and Alex Hewitt.
Matlock made a positive start and created a decent 4th minute opportunity which Micky Harcourt fired over the bar from twelve yards. That seemed to set the tone for the rest of the contest.
At the other end Oscar Radford was well placed to head away a cross from Chris Palmer with goalkeeper Jon Kennedy taking no chances by tipping the ball over the bar to complete the tidy-up.
Misplaced passes were becoming an increasingly noticeable feature with Thomas being unable to profit on 12 minutes when Trafford presented him with the ball. Thomas’ cross was harmless in the end, flashing across the area.
Referee Paul Dermott also became increasingly prominent, over reacting somewhat in booking five players for what seemed minor offenses. Matlock had the rough end of the stick having Harcourt, Holland, Liam Needham and Thomas booked with Rory Fallon being the sole Traffordian in Mr Dermott’s notebook.
Half time arrived with the 182 fans praying for an improvement, which never came, although there was more goalmouth activity.
Michael Oates headed high and wide at the near post in the 52nd minute before a long overdue burst on the left from Joe Leesley saw the full back fire a cross shot too high with Thomas well placed in the centre.
Holland fired too high from distance before the game’s two best moments, one at each end came within the space of sixty seconds.
In the 69th minute, Kennedy produced a splendid fingertip save to push Shelton Payne’s piledriver over the bar for a corner, from which the Gladiators broke at pace and Read did well to deny Thomas at his near post, the powerful shot being blocked by Reed’s feet.
Thomas then shot too high and Stokes had an effort blocked as the game fizzled out but `Rees Welsh might have done better for Trafford in stoppage time than head harmlessly over when well placed.
The result was right in the end and both teams have registered their first point. Both though, will be wanting to show more as an attacking force as the season progresses.
TRAFFORD: 1 Tom Read 2 Rees Welsh 3 Paul Ashton (15 Clevon Beadle 65) 4 Steve Mason 5 Nia Bayanu 6 Tom Schofield 7 Chris Palmer 8 Rory Fallon 9 Michael Oates 10 Joe Shaw 11 Shelton Payne Subs not used: 12 Sam Freakes 14 Callum Jones 16 Aaron Smith 17 Mark Derbyshire
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Joe Leesley 4 Adam Yates 5 David Haggerty 6 Oscar Radford 7 Jason Stokes 8 Josh Meade 9 Danny Holland (12 Leon Osborne 75) 10 Zeph Thomas 11 Liam Needham Subs not used: 14 Niall Dawkins 15 Alex Hewitt 16 Lavell White 17 Matty Leese
REFEREE: P Dermott (Wigan) ATTENDANCE: 182 BEST GLADIATOR: Oscar Radford