ILKESTON FC 1-0 MATLOCK TOWN
James Reid’s 8th minute goal proved to be the difference in a tight local derby at the New Manor Ground.
From the Matlock perspective there were both positives and negatives.
On the plus side was an improved defensive display and some neat approach play and having gone behind so early, the expected rout did not materialise..
Unfortunately if the game had lasted until midnight, Matlock would probably not have scored, such was their ineffectiveness in the Ilkeston penalty box. Goals win matches and quite simply Matlock don’t score enough or create enough clear cut chances to attain the points they so badly need in their precarious league position.
Joint bosses Dave Rushbury and Martin Foster had to do a roll call to see who was fit after a sickness bug had swept through the squad during the week. Other injury problems had also come to the fore so out was Joe Leesley (bug) and Danny Holland (swollen knee) while declared fit after being doubtful were Phil Roe who missed training on Thursday with the bug, Micky Harcourt (chest infection) and Niall McManus who was named as a substitute.
This meant a first league start for Andre Johnson, a place in the starting eleven for Josh Meade and Foster on the bench.
Matlock needed to get off to a solid start but these hopes were vanquished within eight minutes as REED, from wing back, drove down the left, combining sweetly with Ashley Hunter before firing a calm finish past Jon Kennedy.
The expectation then was that the Robins would build on that early advantage, given they had thrashed leaders Skelmersdale 4-1 on their own ground seven days earlier.
But in a tame affair that didn’t happen and it seemed to be a case of Ilkeston knowing that Matlock did not have the ammunition to upset them, so they comfortably held on to what they had got.
Kane Richards, who spent a loan period at Matlock while with Derby County two years ago, saw his shot flash across the face of goal, but in general both goalkeepers had easy afternoons. `It took Matlock fully 32 minutes to muster their first shot, then it was a soft straightforward one for Jordan Smith to gather.
The second half saw Matlock have most of the play but it was Ilkeston who looked the more likely scorers.
After Oscar Radford had been booked for bringing down Hunter, Reed swung in a teasing free kick which was nodded wide by skipper Joe Maguire, then Kennedy was at full stretch to push away a low ball from Hunter.
At the other end chances were few and far between as the Robins easily soaked up the visitors pressure. Johnson’s angled drive provided Smith with a routine stop and Charlie Dawes drove high and wide shortly afterwards.
In the end one piece of quality proved to be decisive although in a late bid to snatch an equalizer, Matlock at last tested Smith more seriously as he plucked Harcourt’s header from a clutch of waiting players in stoppage time.
Foster came on with fifteen minutes left for his first taste of action this season following his leg fracture in pre season but he could not find the killer ball to penetrate a tightly locked Robins defence. It had been a recurring theme throughout the second half.
ILKESTON FC: 1 Jordan Smith 2 James Reed 3 Luke Shaw 4 Matt Baker 5 Joe Maguire 6 Jack Lane 7 David Morgan 8 Callum Chettle 9 Rob Duffy (14 Michael Williams 77) 10 Kane Richards 11 Ashley Hunter. Subs not used: 12 Akil Wright 15 Eli Bako 16 Rai Simons 17 Danny Gordon
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Lawrence Gorman (15 Martin Foster 75) 3 Oscar Radford (16 Corey Gregory 57) 4 Micky Harcourt 5 Adam Yates 6 Ellis Humble 7 Josh Meade 8 James Ashmore 9 Andre Johnson 10 Charlie Dawes 11 Phil Roe Subs not used: 12 Caine Winfarrah 14 Niall McManus
REFEREE: M Perry (Sutton Coldfield) ATTENDANCE: 439 BEST GLADIATOR: Micky Harcourt