Stourbridge 4-1 Matlock Town
The scoreline might suggest a thrashing for Matlock, but it does not tell the whole story from an entertaining evening’s football at the bitterly cold War Memorial Ground.
Stourbridge are flying and this was their seventh league win on the trot, but the Gladiators certainly played their part and the size of the defeat was harsh on the visitors.
The difference was the two forward lines. The Glassboys were clinical in front of goal whereas Matlock needed an extra final pass which more often than not was faulty allowing the hard working hosts to clear the danger. Over elaboration was a problem for Matlock in deeper areas also. There are times to play and times to move the ball via the direct route, Matlock were punished for taking the option.
All things considered though, it was a much better performance than in the abject loss to Stamford nine days earlier. A similar committed display with the neat moves of Monday night would surely have brought them some reward in Lincolnshire.
Still without the suspended influential duo of Adam Yates and Laurie Wilson and with Ben Algar and Craig Nelthorpe on the injured list, there was a recall from loan at Stocksbridge for Jason Paling at right back with Liam Gaughan being switched to the opposite full back berth. Charlie Dawes replaced Joel Purkiss who was named on a youthful substitutes bench which also contained Chesterfield loanee Jake Orrell and reserve teamers Tom Laister and Matt Wilkinson plus academy student Lewis Brown.
Matlock made a bright start with Niall McManus stretching but unsuccessfully connecting with a cross from Nicky Travis who was impressive in the Town engine room. Then McManus made inroads on the left to find Dawes who pulled a low shot wide, shortly before a fine interception from Christian Green halted Liam Needham who run on to Danny Holland’s flick.
A low drive from Chris Lait bobbled harmlessly wide in the hosts’ first attack of note on 12 minutes but LAIT broke the deadlock in deadly fashion two minutes later. The experienced Karl Hawley fed the winger superbly and a fierce low strike sizzled past George Willis at his near post.
The goal was largely against the run of the play and there was worse to follow for Matlock nine minutes later as Ted Cribley lost possession in midfield and full back CHRISTIAN GREEN who seconds earlier had a surging run halted by an excellent Tom Burgin tackle, was on hand to latch on to Justin Richards’ pass and shoot home low off the inside of the post.
Encouragingly Matlock’s response was positive and a fine flowing move started by McManus and continued by Cribley and Holland saw the ball reach Travis whose low shot was pushed out by Matthew Gould at full stretch. Then Holland had a half chance that he hooked over the bar.
Stourbridge instantly were threatening at the other end as Willis stretched every sinew to tip over a Hawley strike with Joe Hull’s header from the corner rebounding off a post.
Matlock then broke for Stuart Pierrpoint to be booked for having two attempts in felling McManus, the second deep in the penalty area but referee Dadley awarding a free Kick for the initial offence which Cribley disappointingly placed straight into Gould’s arms.
Matlock needed a strong start to the second half but their hopes of a comeback disappeared within only seven minutes when DODD cut in from the left and went down under Harcourt’s challenge, the defender being booked for his protests before the Stourbridge number seven clinically stroked home the spot kick.
Holland missed a fine chance to reduce the arrears on 56 minutes, Cribley’s pass seeing him clear of the Home defence only to fire narrowly wide in a one on one with Gould.
Travis was booked for a tired but not malicious foul on Leon Broadhurst as Matlock’s workrate could not be faulted. They continued to attack but lacked the poise and calmness evident when Stourbridge attacked, a case in point being McManus volleying wide from Cribley’s deep cross.
Stourbridge added a fourth goal on 72 minutes when Matlock gave the ball away in midfield and Dodd advanced down the right to slip a pass inside for BROADHURST whose finish comprehensively beat Willis.
Substitute Purkiss turned neatly to fire into the sidenetting before with three minutes left the Gladiators at last found the scoresheet, LIAM NEEDHAM bundling in a scrappy effort from close range which was scant reward for the Gladiators but at least it gave them something to show for their efforts.
It was always a tough ask to upset the applecart at Stourbridge, especially given the players Matlock had missing. They gave it a go but on the night the better side had won making fewer mistakes in key areas.
STOURBRIDGE: 1 Matthew Gould 2 Christian Green (14 Junior Smikle 69) 3 Dan Scarr 4 Sean Geddes 5 Joe Hull 6 Stuart Pierpoint 7 Matt Dodd 8 Leon Broadhurst 9 Karl Hawley (17 Gurjit Singh 78) 10 Justin Richards 11 Chris Lait (15 Ashley Vincent 69) Other Subs: 12 Ben Billingham 16 Sam Whittall
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 George Willis 2 Jason Paling 3 Liam Gaughan 4 Nicky Travis 5 Micky Harcourt 6 Tom Burgin 7 Ted Cribley 8 Liam Needham 9 Niall McManus 10 Danny Holland (12 Joel Purkiss 60) 11 Charlie Dawes (14 Jake Orrell 60)
Other subs: 15 Tom Laister 16 Matt Wilkinson 17 Lewis Brown
REFEREE: R Dadley (Bedworth) ATTENDANCE: 344 BEST GLADIATOR: Nicky Travis