Stourbridge 1-0 Matlock Town
Matlock failed to make any headway in their relegation battle after a sole strike from Drew Canavan earned Stourbridge the points in a scrappy affair.
But the Gladiators will feel they probably did enough to earn a point from a wind affected game, played in bitterly cold conditions. They must though be more creative and when the chances do come along, which they did, they must convert them.
Mark Hume unsurprisingly kept the same staring line up which had demolished fellow strugglers Witton Albion seven days earlier, but there were changes on the bench with Adam Yates and Grant Black featuring as well as new signing, striker Jamie McDonough, brought in on loan from Sheffield United twenty four hours before kick off.
The Gladiators made a bright start with most of the early play in the Stourbridge half. But they could not fashion a clear chance, partly due to the conditions and partly due to a faulty final pass.
It was Stourbridge who came closest to breaking the deadlock as Luke Benbow fired wide when well placed in the 12th minute followed nine minutes later by Kennedy saving well from Jordan Fitzpatrick, Micky Harcourt completing the mop up work in the Gladiators penalty box.
Matlock had failed to seriously trouble goalkeeper Dean Coleman in the opening exchanges but probably should have done on 37 minutes when Danny Holland skillfully brought down an Otis Khan cross, turned sweetly but fired narrowly wide. It was a good attempt but Coleman should have been at least forced into a save, if not picking the ball out of the net.
Penalty appeals were rejected when Khan looked to have been impeded as he wriggled past a defender in the box and then as half time approached a Corey Gregory header was cleared with Holland also trying to profit from another heading opportunity.
Matlock would have been reasonably satisfied with their first half efforts but parity would last only seven second half minutes when Niall McManus was harshly adjudged to have fouled Brian Smike a couple of yards outside the box. From a central position, CANAVAN exacted the full punishment with a wonderful curling effort that left Kennedy helpless. It was a rare moment of quality in a game where there was plenty of endeavour but little in terms of flair and invention.
Matlock looked for an instant response and nearly got it as a cracking thirty yard effort from Josh Meade whistled inches past the post.
The goal had obviously lifted Stourbridge who looked for a second strike and it took some timely defending by Oscar Radford to hack clear a header from home skipper Leon Broadhurst following a corner on the right.
But Matlock made a fight of it and might have levelled on 65 minutes when substitute McDonough forced Coleman into a parry which fell to Holland who forced his follow up shot into the side netting.
It was mostly Matlock knocking on the door of the Stourbridge defence for the remainder of the contest and more often than not finding the door firmly shut.Liam Needham had a headed chance from which he could not find sufficient power to beat Coleman but they did come close at the death though as Khan’s low drive was pushed away by the Stourbridge custodian..
Matlock deserved something but were beaten by one moment of quality. They remain four points adrift of fifth bottom Witton but have now used up their spare game with Albion not in action.
The visit of Marine on Saturday is another huge six pointer.
STOURBRIDGE: 1 Dean Coleman 2 Brian Smikle 3 Josh Quaynor 4 Tyrone Williams 5 Reece Hales (14 Josh Morgan-Parker 36) 6 Kayelden Brown 7 Luke Connolly 8 Leon Broadhurst 9 Luke Benbow 10 Drew Canavan 11 Jordan Fitzpatrick (16 Sam The 80) Other subs: 12 Dominic Hill 15 Jean Kalenda 17 Dayle Kenny
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt (15 Adam Yates 84) 3 Oscar Radford 4 Josh Meade (12 Scott Maxfield 69) 5 Muhammed Sabo 6 Dale Banton 7 Niall McManus (14 Jamie McDonough 58) 8 Liam Needham 9 Corey Gregory 10 Danny Holland 11 Otis Khan Other subs: 16 Jason Stokes 17 Grant Black
REFEREE: M Perry (Sutton Coldfield) ATTENDANCE: 369 BEST GLADIATOR: Otis Khan