Rushall Olympic 1-0 Matlock Town
The winning run had to end sometime, it was just a pity it ended in a disappointing match between on the day two average sides.
Rushall made it a double in terms of the results between the clubs and also in a week when they also ended FC United of Manchester’s long winning sequence, the teams having drawn 1-1 at Dales Lane in midweek.
Unsurprisingly Mark Hume kept an unchanged line up from the previous week’s win over Nantwich.
A dry bumpy surface plus a swirling wind did not help the platers in putting on a spectacle. In fact, the match was on the whole, a tight, dour battle. But the Gladiators will feel they did enough to bring home what would have been a deserved point.
Facing the elements in the opening half, Matlock quite simply could not get going.
Neither for that matter did Rushall and the goal on 22 minutes was the first noteworthy action. Matlock could have defended the right wing cross from Jake Heath better as it was AARON WILLIAMS who moved ahead of Muhammed Sabo to bundle the ball beyond Jon Kennedy.
Home custodian Ryan Price grabbed a header from Jamie McDonagh following a corner on the left on the half hour but there was still precious little goalmouth activity
Ted Cribley drove off target as did Josh Meade when Matlock took a free kick quickly before the half time whistle shrilled leaving Gladiators fans hopeful of a better second half.
Matlock certainly put in plenty of endeavour with the game being played almost exclusively in the Olympians’ half.
There’s always hope these days from an Otis Khan free kick and hopes were high on 47 minutes from a central position a couple of yards outside the penalty box. But this time, Khan could not repeat his feat of netting from direct free kicks in his previous three games, his shot being deflected wide.
That was virtually his last contribution, as Hume made a double change bringing off Khan and Niall McManus and sending on Danny Holland and Danny Frost to help out McDonagh in attack.
Holland added much needed strength against an uncompromising defence and there was a sniff of an opportunity for McDonagh on 62 minutes, the Northern Irishman firing wide after being set up by Holland.
Then came the pivotal moment as Rushall had Price to thank for earning all three points. He pulled off a breathtaking save to keep out Holland’s fiercely struck shot and then did even better from Holland’s follow up.
Matlock would not give up but they must have thought then it would not be their day.
Sabo nodded a 79th minute Micky Harcourt free kick over the bar and in the dying minutes Holland did likewise from an Oscar Radford long throw.
That extra slice of quality was unfortunately missing. They had enough of the play to earn a point, but they needed to be a little more clinical. It was another reminder also that there is still plenty of hard work ahead in the final two months of the season for Matlock to ensure their Premier Division status.
RUSHALL OLYMPIC: 1 Ryan Price 2 Mitchell Tolley 3 Josh Hawker 4 Kris Taylor 5 Aris Christophoru 6 Gavin Caines 7 Jake Heath 8 Carl Palmer 9 Aaron Williams 10 Alex Melbourne 11 Alun Webb (17 Jack Duggan 72)
MATLOCK TOWN” 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Oscar Radford 4 Josh Meade (15 Adam Yates 84) 5 Muhammed Sabo 6 Julian Banton 7 Ted Cribley 8 Liam Needham 9 Jamie McDonagh 10 Otis Khan (16 Danny Holland 55) 11 Niall McManus (17 Danny Frost 55) Other subs: 12 Scott Maxfield 14 Grant Black
REFEREE: M Wilkes (Stourbridge) ATTENDANCE: 204 BEST GLADIATOR: Liam Needham