MATLOCK TOWN 0-1 WHITBY TOWN
Dale Hopson’s 32nd minute strike condemned Matlock to a joint bottom spot and another miserable day in a season which just does not seem to get any better.
Short on confidence, the Gladiators, although putting in an improved second half performance, did not test Whitby goalkeeper Shane Bland until the 89th minute when an Adam Yates header was clawed away, the custodian flinging himself to his left to preserve a clean sheet.
At present, it seems difficult to see how the Gladiators can escape their current relegation slot. They appear toothless in attack and there is constant pressure on the back four not to concede, for once they do, as proved on Saturday, they are in trouble.
Former Nottingham Forest defender Laurence Gorman was handed a debut and there was a surprise with skipper Liam Needham being left out of the starting line up. Danny Holland wore the captain’s armband with Phil Roe making his first start of the season at full back with Joe Leesley pushed further forward.
Whitby, who had only won once previously at Matlock, took the early initiative with Richard Pell firing fiercely at Jon Kennedy in the opening minute and Matthew Waters nodding directly at Kennedy shortly afterwards. A sliced finish from Waters quickly followed before Matlock steadied themselves. A Jamie Yates free kick was traveling yards wide but it took a deflection to earn what turned out to be a fruitless 16th minute corner. Three minutes later, Jason Stokes might have done better than hurriedly slice wide after a fine through pass from Jamie Yates.
The contest had become mediocre at best and it was a surprise when a goal came. The Gladiators only partially cleared a free kick from the right and the ball dropped to HOPSON who threaded a low shot through a ruck of players.
Jamie Yates and Josh Meade sent efforts high and wide respectively before half time, after which at least Matlock came out in more positive fashion.
Stokes immediately escaped down the left flank but the move fizzled out due to a poor centre. A double substitution which saw Needham and Leon Osborne replace Gorman and Meade appeared to give the Gladiators more drive.
Within three minutes of coming on Needham fed Holland on the right whose diagonal shot flashed across the face of goal narrowly past the far post where Osborne could not apply there finishing touch.
Then came two reasonable penalty shouts as Osborne looked to be manhandled by Pell and a Jamie Yates shot was blocked on the line, possibly by a defender’s hand. Unfortunately for the hosts, both appeals received a negative response from referee Meredith.
Bland’s late save confirmed the Seasiders’ clean sheet, their three points and another desperate day for Matlock, which could have been slightly worse as Liam Shepherd broke at pace to clip the crossbar deep into stoppage time.
The worry is that Matlock lost to an average side and tougher tests than Whitby are on the horizon. Until they can come up with a more potent attacking threat, there will be a lot more days like this.
MATLOCK TOWN; 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Laurence Gorman (16 Liam Needham 57) 3 Joe Leesley 4 James Ashmore 5 Adam Yates 6 Oscar Radford 7 Jason Stokes 8 Josh Meade (12 Leon Osborne 57) 9 Danny Holland (14 Corey Gregory 77) 10 Jamie Yates 11 Phil Roe Other subs: 15 Matt Andrews 17 Matty Leese
WHITBY TOWN: 1 Shane Bland 2 Ibrahim Hassan 3 Mark Robinson 4 Richard Pell 5 Kevin Burgess (16 Lee Bullock 57) 6 David McTiernan 7 Matthew Brown 8 Dale Hopson 9 Matthew Waters (12 Craig Farrell 80) 10 Steven Snaith 11 Liam Shepherd Other subs: 15 Darren Williams 17 David Campbell
REFEREE: S Meredith (Mansfield) ATTENDANCE: 270 BEST GLADIATOR: Oscar Radford