Witton Albion 1-3 Matlock Town
Matlock won the battle of two out of form teams at the Help For Heroes Stadium, coming from behind to in the end look comfortable.
It looked far from rosy for Matlock in the early exchanges which saw them trail to a Neil Harvey goal on 13 minutes but a penalty converted by captain Danny Holland four minutes before the interval put them back in a game where they had previously looked second best.
Then after surviving early Albion pressure after the restart, they ran the show for the final half hour when a superb Corey Gregory strike followed by a delicious free kick by James Ashmore, saw them return over the Cat and Fiddle with three crucial points.
Witton had lost this last seven league and cup matches, Matlock’s run of defeats stood at five, so something had to give.
Joint interim boses Dave Rushbury and Martin Foster kept faith with the starting line up narrowly beaten at Grantham in midweek with the only changes coming on the substitutes bench as Leon Osborne and Lavell White were named.
Albion looked the more likely side early on and Alex Titchener went close after six minutes firing over from the edge of the box after an intelligent lay off by Neil Harvey.
Matlock’s passing was below par in the opening exchanges making Witton’s job a gray deal easier and it looked bleak for the Gladiators when after conceding a free kick some thirty yards from goal, they switched off allowing it to be taken quickly. Anthony Gardner made ground on the right to scoop in a high cross which HARVEY nodded in from closed range.
It was sixteen minutes on the clock before Matlock had their first attempt, a decent one at that as Jamie Yates drove inches too high from twenty two yards.
But at this stage a second Albion goal looked more likely than a Matlock equaliser. Titchener planted a header straight at Jon Kennedy before Danny Andrews was on the end of a speedy break to see his effort deflected wide for a fruitless corner.
It was a surprise then when Matlock found their leveller. Centre half Zac Corbett’s unnecessary challenge on Holland was punished as referee Dermott pointed to the spot in what looked to be a soft penalty, but nevertheless the correct decision and HOLLAND showed Corbett nor Witton no mercy as he confidently fired home.
The injured Phil Roe was replaced by Niall McManus at the break and McManus again went on to give a verity tidy performance.
Jamie Yates, playing his final game of his loan period before returning to North Ferriby drove a Holland cross too high before Witton enjoyed a mini spell of pressure which saw Kennedy hold a strike from Titchener and on his return to Witton, save excellently from Josh Hancock.
Witton needed to score when they were briefly on top in the second period, they didn’t and Matlock, lowest scorers in the league, went on to show them just how to do it.
Holland was unlucky on 69 minutes, latching on to Josh Meade’s pass to shoot narrowly past Daniel East’s right hand upright, but East’s and Witton’s respite would not last long.
COREY GREGORY cut in from the left to curl a peach of a shot past the goalkeeper’s despairing dive and into the far corner and Matlock never looked back.
A deflated Witton conceded a free kick when substitute Daniel O’Brien fouled McManus five yards outside the penalty area and ASHMORE beat the wall with another fantastic hit to give Matlock a two goal advantage which they never looked like relinquishing.
Matlock must now build on this second half performance and victory with the aim of converting forty five minute shows into ninety minute extravaganzas. It was just their second win of the season and they still remained second from bottom but in better heart for some tough games that lie ahead.
WITTON ALBION: 1 Daniel East 2 Anthony Gardner 3 Cliff Moyo 4 Ben Harrison 5 Zac Corbett 6 Ross Davidson (15 Daniel O’Brien 73) 7 Josh Hancock 8 Michael Powell (12 Jonathan Dawson 84) 9 Neil Harvey 10 Alex Titchener (16 Scott Bakkor 63) 11 Danny Andrews Subs not used: 14 Sam Barnes 17 Jamie Speare
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Josh Meade 3 Joe Leesley 4 Lawrence Gorman 5 Adam Yates 6 Oscar Radford 7 Corey Gregory 8 James Ashmore 9 Danny Holland (14 Lavell White 84) 10 Jamie Yates (15 Leon Osborne 67) 11 Phil Roe (12 Niall McManus 46)
REFEREE: P Dermott (Wigan) ATTENDANCE: 327 BEST GLADIATOR: Corey Gregory