Rushall Olympic 2-3 Matlock Town
Matlock shattered Rushall’s unbeaten start to the season thanks in main to a brilliant start which saw them two goals ahead inside the opening twenty minutes at Dales Lane on Tuesday night.
Joel Purkiss and Niall McManus, who formed Matlock’s front two in the absence of the ill Danny Holland, both netted fine goals but the Pics fought back to level by the 53rd minute only for Nathan Forbes to continue the scoring substitute theme by stroking in the winner just two minutes later.
The hosts finished the game a man down when central defender Michael Townsend was sent off on 64 minutes for a terribly late challenge on Liam Needham, but they still gave Matlock a worrying time towards the end, forcing the Gladiators to hang on grimly.
But hang on Matlock did, and they have now won three out of the first four to surprise a lot of observers, some of their own fans included.
Matlock began brightly with Ted Cribley, named as skipper, pulling the strings alongside the industrious Nicky Travis and Liam Needham. Travis came close to releasing McManus with the perfect through pass down the middle in the 5th minute, the ball having a touch too much pace on it.
But Matlock continued to look the more dangerous and after forcing a couple of corners, they went ahead in the 14th minute when a free kick from the right was only half cleared, and PURKISS scored with a screamer from 15 yards that goalkeeper Dean Coleman did not have a hope of saving.
Coleman was well placed to hold a powerful low free kick from Micky Harcourt but the Gladiators maintained their assault to double their advantage in the 20th minute thanks to an exquisite low finish from McMANUS, who guided a neat low shot just inside Coleman’s left hand post from a Purkiss assist.
Rushall, clearly frustrated, had striker Luke Benbow booked for a late challenge on Adam Yates close to the corner flag but it was BENBOW who gave Rushall hope as his twenty five yarder looked to have been covered by Lewis King only for the goalkeeper to help the powerful strike over the line.
Suddenly Rushall looked a more confident side and Zak Martin shot narrowly wide soon afterwards as Matlock had to dig deep to stay ahead.
But Matlock always looked dangerous when they came forward themselves and a blistering drive by Ben Algar in the 36th minute was only inches wide and in the dying embers of the first period McManus sliced wide when well placed on the edge of the box after Cribley and Purkiss had cleverly created the opening.
Benbow, the former Stourbridge leading scorer, was Pics’ chief threat. King was down swiftly to push out a low strike before after the interval, BENBOW netted for a second time. Matlock could not weather the storm as shots rained in on their goal, King saving well from Benbow and then Malachi Farquharson hitting the post before it was third time lucky as the Pics number nine swept in a low shot after a neat one two with Jake Heath.
Having lost a two goal lead, Matlock needed to consolidate quickly. They did more than that as within a further ninety seconds they were back in front again as Rushall went to sleep at the back allowing FORBES to calmly slot home in a one on one with Coleman.
Rushall though would not lie down even with a man less and Matlock needed to manage the game a touch more effectively at this stage.
Chances still fell to the hosts with King atoning for his earlier effort with a fine save from substitute Carl Palmer and Heath will probably wonder how he missed a golden opportunity, firing over from close range with the goal at his mercy.
Late Rushall appeals for a penalty when King clashed with Ethan Delaney were turned down before Matlock were glad to hear the final whistle, pleased that their earlier endeavours would be suitably rewarded with a good win on a difficult away ground.
They had shown great character though, and that resolve has led to a decent start which sees them in the top six going into the August Bank Holiday weekend.
RUSHALL OLYMPIC: 1 Dean Coleman 2 Aris Christophorou, 3 Jamie Smith 4 Mitchell Tolley 5 Michael Townsend 6 Jack Duggan 7 Jake Heath 8 Kris Taylor (16 Carl Palmer 73) 9 Luke Benbow (12 Michael McGrath 73) 10 Malachi Farquharson 11 Zak Martin (17 Ethan Delaney 62) Other subs: 14 Jordan Fitzpatrick 15 Bilal Yafai
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Lewis King 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Oscar Radford 4 Nicky Travis 5 Adam Yates 6 Harry Coates 7 Ted Cribley (14 Liam Gaughan 90) 8 Liam Needham 9 Joel Purkiss 10 Niall McManus (15 Nathan Forbes 51) 11 Ben Algar Other subs: 12 Scott Maxfield 16 Mark Hume 17 Ryan Pugh
REFEREE: A Hendley (West Midlands) ATTENDANCE: 181 BEST GLADIATOR: Joel Purkiss