MATLOCK TOWN 1-0 WHITBY TOWN
Substitutes scoring late goals has become a theme in Matlock Town’s season to date, it happened again in the midst of a thunderstorm at the Autoworld Arena on Saturday.
Niall McManus was this time on target, having been omitted from the starting line up by manager Mark Hume who gave a start instead to Joel Purkiss, scorer of two goals from two substitute appearances beforehand.
McManus struck on 89 minutes just when it appeared that a scoreless draw would be the outcome from a game of few chances but which was competitive and sportingly contested throughout, plus well refereed by Birmingham’s Eddie Smart.
Defences were generally on top and Matlock again, in particular, were excellent in that department, as Adam Yates this time earned star rating but fellow defenders Harry Coates, Micky Harcourt and Oscar Radford were not far behind. as they protected goalkeeper Lewis King with supreme efficiency.
Whitby will return home possibly justifiably thinking they did enough to earn a point. The Seasiders shaded possession but the better of the few chances fell to the Gladiators.
The visitors made the early running and Matlock stood their ground but there was an opportunity for leading scorer Michael Roberts on seven minutes, his well struck volley being well blocked by Lewis King , the rebound falling to Adam Gell whose volley drifted wide.
Matlock responded four minutes afterwards following a neatly constructed move down the right. The inventive Ted Cribley releasing Harcourt whose cross was nodded narrowly wide by Danny Holland.
Much of the contest though was played out in midfield and it was another quarter of an hour before another shot at goal ended with King holding an attempt from Matthew Waters.
The tit for tat pattern was maintained with Purkiss crossing to the far post where Ben Algar, steaming in could only direct his header into the ground, the ball bouncing high over the bar off the dry surface. Goalkeeper Shane Bland then did well to cut out a low cross from Coates with Holland waiting to convert, and then he had an easier save to make, comfortably holding a Purkiss free kick. A more busy spell for Bland came to an end as he turned aside an effort from Holland who would then have the first opportunity of the second half. Liam Needham cleverly found space to deliver a fine centre from the left which again Holland got his head to but again it fell wide.
Whitby then had their best chance of the second period when King did well to save a Roberts strike with his legs, before Matlock brought off the industrious Nicky Travis and sent on McManus.
A Whitby substitute, James Brown tried his luck from twenty five yards to bring a competent stop from King but apart from a wild effort from Callum Martin which swerved a couple of yards wide, there would be no further alarms for Matlock.,
Holland again nodded wide, this time from a lofted cross by Purkiss and when Cribley saw an intelligent effort from the left turned over the bar by the outstretched fingertips of Bland, the spoils looked set to be shared.
But in a bizarre finish which saw thunder rain lashing down, Yates and Coates collided attacking a set piece, with both trainers being called on to administer treatment. Yates recovered relatively quickly but Coates’ return to the fray was delayed as his head was bandaged, the defender receiving generous applause from the crowd.
Then came the decisive moment. McMANUS attacked down the inside left channel and Bland parried his initial effort. Radford, up in support, stayed calm to feed McManus again and the Londoner had lost marker Martin to be afforded too much space to curl a low shot into the opposite corner.
Whitby had little time left to respond, in all probability the timing of the goal had knocked the wind out of their sails.
But it’s two wins out of three for Matlock which represents a solid start to the campaign.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Lewis King 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Oscar Radford 4 Nicky Travis (12 Niall McManus 55), 5 Adam Yates 6 Harry Coates 7 Ted Cribley 8 Liam Needham 9 Joel Purkiss 10 Danny Holland (14 Liam Gaughan 79), 11 Ben Algar Other subs: 15 Matty Steeper 16 Mark Hume 17 Ryan Pugh
WHITBY TOWN: 1 Shane Bland 2 Ibrahim Hassan 3 Mark Robinson (12 Liam Shepherd 78) 4 Richard Pell 5 Kieran Weledji 6 David McTiernan 7 Ross Gardner 8 Adam Gell 9 Michael Roberts ( 17 Scott McCarthy 67) 10 Matthew waters (15 James Brown 59) 11 Callum Martin Other subs: 14 Lee Bullock 16 Connor Gardner
REFEREE: Eddie Smart (Birmingham) ATTENDANCE: 256 BEST GLADIATOR: Adam Yates