Matlock Town 1-0 Ilkeston FC
Niall McManus scored for the fourth successive game to settle a close local derby which ended in controversy with the hosts down to ten men at the Autoworld Arena on August Bank Holiday Monday.
It was a shame that the keenly fought out contest should end in this manner, Matlock’s Micky Harcourt being sent off for an 82nd minute altercation with a spectator.
Harcourt alleges he was spat on by an Ilkeston supporter behind the Town End goal. If this proves to be true, it does not look good on Ilkeston and nevertheless, it left a sour taste in the mouth.
As a spectacle, it never got going with both sides missing key personnel. Out for Matlock were injury hit midfield duo Nicky Travis and Ted Cribley with the suspended winger Marcus Harness out for the Robins.
Matlock made most of the early running, threatening inside the first minute when Joel Purkiss was off target from the right after being fed by McManus.
Then the hosts had a goal ruled out on 4 minutes when Adam Yates found the net with a header only for referee Declan Bourne to spot an infringement.
Charlie Coulson replied for the Robins forcing a decent save from Lewis King following Ilkeston’s first attacking move of note in the 11th minute, and from the resulting corner, Lee Hughes headed downwards but over the bar.
King was then hobbling with Harcourt taking his goal kicks before Matlock scored the decisive goal on 31 minutes.
Whether McMANUS meant his teasing cross shot from the right which totally deceived goalkeeper Edward Rachioni will be debated for a long time, but in it went off the far post and Matlock made the vital breakthrough.
On the balance of the play, Matlock deserved their lead and they created another chance soon afterwards with Ben Algar shooting tamely at Rachioni from 20 yards.
Ilkeston through should have probably equalized three minutes before the break as Hughes, looking suspiciously offside, escaped down the centre but King superbly blocked his shot.
The Reds enjoyed the lion’s share of the play in the second period but were largely toothless. Hughes became increasingly frustrated, being booked for pulling down Yates in the 52nd minute.
Michael Williams drove at King before substitute Curtis Burrows had an effort brilliantly blocked by Harry Coates with Matlock keeping the Robins at arms length as Gavin Strachan’s men failed to score for the first time this season. Liam Needham was outstanding in the engine room for the Gladiators.
McManus twice might have put the match beyond the visitors in quick breaks only for his control to let him down and although Harcourt’s dismissal led to Ilkeston increasing their attacking tempo, Matlock held on with relative comfort to go second in the table.
Mark Hume’s influence at Matlock was there for all to see while Ilkeston will need to learn that the NPL is an unforgiving league with battle scarred players who at times may be too streetwise for their young squad.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Lewis King 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Oscar Radford 4 Liam Gaughan 5 Adam Yates 6 Oscar Radford 7 Niall McManus 8 Liam Needham 9 Joel Purkiss ( 14 Nathan Forbes 58) 10 Danny Holland (12 Scott Maxfield 80) 11 Ben Algar Other sub: 15 Mark Hume
ILKESTON FC: 1 Edward Rachioni 2 Joe Doyle 3 Olly Luto 4 Kingsley Williams (16 Danny Gordon 80) 5 Matt Baker 6 Liam Marshall 7 Luke Shaw (12 Curtis Burrows 80) 8 Michael Williams 9 Lee Hughes 10 Jonathan Edwards (14 Daniel Udoh 46) 11 Charlie Coulson Other subs: 15 Elliott Hodgett-Young 17 Janquil Hill
REFEREE: Declan Bourne (Nottingham) ATTENDANCE: 529
Best Gladiator: Liam Needham, Best Robin: Charlie Coulson