NANTWICH TOWN 2-2 MATLOCK TOWN
Few in the 307 crowd would have offered Matlock a prayer when the Gladiators were two goals adrift after only six minutes, but the Gladiators gave the high flying Dabbers a taste of their own medicine, scoring two quick fire goals themselves to be level by the 15th minute.
An avalanche of goals looked to be on the cards, particularly with both defences looking vulnerable, but surprisingly there ended the scoring and Matlock went home with a valuable, deserved and hard earned point.
Nantwich had already twice hit six and once struck seven times in previous home victories and it appeared as if home fans were to view another goalscoring fiesta,.
Having been presented with the Premier Division Team Of The Month award prior to the kick off, Nantwich were soon celebrating again on five minutes.
Nippy and tricky winger Matty Kosylo nutmegged Craig Nelthorpe on the right to drive in a low cross which Matlock could not clear, the ball reaching MATTHEW BELL some fifteen yards out to fire firmly past George Willis.
Scarcely a minute later Matlock looked dead and buried, even at this remarkably early stage as Andy White’s diagonal pass found LIAM SHOTTON who crashed his shot fiercely into the roof of the net from the left.
Shotton then had another chance when the assistant missed a blatant offside decision but Willis was ideally placed to keep out his shot.
Crucially the Gladiators wasted little time in responding. A neat move down the right in the 12th minute saw NIALL McMANUS collect a pass from Sam Smith to advance into the penalty box and slot a personally confidence boosting goal beyond Terence Smith.
Then goalkeeper Smith and his defenders got themselves into an embarrassing and costly muddle as they over confidently tried to play their way clear, losing possession to DANNY HOLLAND who gleefully fired into an empty net.
In the next breath Ted Cribley shot too high after fine work by Ben Algar on the left, Algar playing in a more advanced role with Nelthorpe fitting into Algar’s recent left back position.
Willis dived at Bell’s feet to cut out a low centre from Lewis Short as a now end to end game unfolded, Kosylo soon afterwards shooting powerfully towards goal from twenty yards with Willis again being equal to the task.
Holland collected the first yellow card for a lunge on White before Nelthorpe and Kosylo were staring at the whites of each others’ eyes in a confrontation sensibly handled by the excellent referee, James Wilson.
Liam Needham, a colossus in the Gladiators midfield with Laurie Wilson missing through suspension, drove narrowly too high from distance and McManus, having robbed Dabbers’ skipper Darren Thornton, saw Smith block his shot, Algar volleying the instantly played next centre comfortably high and wide at the back post.
Thornton was booked two minutes into the second half for barging McManus into the boundary fence, Holland heading wide from Algar’s free kick.
Bell then threatened for the hosts with a surging break from midfield which ended with a blistering thirty yard effort whistling narrowly too high.
After McManus headed an Algar centre wide there was a lull in the chances being created until the 74th minute when two Nantwich substitutes combined, Josh Hancock releasing Josh Gordon who brought out a fine save by Willis.
Three successive Nantwich corners followed but Matlock stood firm, the last one seeing giant centre back Matt Bailey clear the crossbar with his header.
There was still time for each side to create a couple of opportunities, Gordon extending Willis to the full with a low drive and Kosylo’s shot being comfortably gathered by Willis. For Matlock, Smith had a sight of goal and White managed to deflect his shot away for an unproductive corner before Joel Purkiss had a great chance and the best of the contest’s finale to grab the headlines.
Algar put in another cross and from eight yards, he lifted the ball high over the bar and out of the stadium towards neighbouring Crewe!
So after a disastrous start, Matlock deserve immense credit for responding with a performance full of enterprise and spirit and their losing away streak in the league was halted at the fifth time of asking.
NANTWICH TOWN: 1 Terence Smith 2 Andy White 3 Darren Thornton 4 Ben Harrison 5 Matt Bailey 6 Elliot Osborne 7 Matthew Kosylo 8 Sam Hall 9 Liam Shotton (16 Josh Gordon 73) 10 Matthew Bell 11 Lewis Short (12 Josh Hancock 61) Other sub: 14 Jonathan Moran
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 George Willis 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Ben Algar 4 Craig Nelthorpe 5 Adam Yates 6 Harry Coates 7 Ted Cribley 8 Liam Needham 9 Sam Smith 10 Danny Holland (15 Joel Purkiss 87) 11 Niall McManus Other subs: 12 Scott Maxfield 14 Jordan Deacey 16 Nicky Travis 17 Jack Siddall
REFEREE: James Wilson (Manchester) ATTENDANCE: 307 BEST GLADIATOR: Liam Needham