MATLOCK TOWN 1-3 BARWELL
Matlock were simply not at the races during much of this mid table clash against Barwell who were well worth their first ever win against their hosts.
The Gladiators never recovered from going two goals behind in fourteen minutes, both as a result of sloppy defending, a topic highlighted all too often by manager Mark Hume throughout the campaign.
Micky Harcourt had to partner Adam Yates in the centre as Hume had to reorganise with Harry Coates having been recalled by Harrogate and Barwell, busy and workmanlike throughout, took advantage. With a strong wind blowing towards the Town End, Barwell won the crucial toss and kicked that way in the opening half.
Initially Matlock had started brightly with the pace of Niall McManus on the right flank causing the Barwell defence problems, one crossdrive from that position curling narrowly past the far post before McManus stabbed a Joel Purkiss cross into the sidenetting.
But that early optimism evaporated when the Canaries struck twice in four minutes and from the Matlock viewpoint,both could and probably should have been avoided.
ALEX TOMKINSON was left free towards the back post to volley in a cross from Jamie Towers in the 10th minute and it was the troublesome TOWERS that increased Matlock’s pain when he was allowed a free central run to slip a calm finish past the cruelly exposed George Willis.
It might have been worse had Willis not superbly kept out a 17th minute Tomkinson shot, the goalkeeper then holding a Jamie Towers effort.
All Matlock had to offer during this horrible spell was a free kick by Purkiss which was comfortably gathered by goalkeeper Liam Castle.
At least Matlock established a foothold on the game as Barwell’s chances dried up but Matlock could not create anything of note either. A faulty back pass from Declan Towers passed inches wide of the post but Town were given a lifeline on the stroke of half time. It came from an unlikely source as LIAM NEEDHAM squeezed a low drive from the edge of the box past the unsighted Castle. It was only Needham’s second Matlock goal in his 107th appearance, his first on home turf.
The wind calmed down somewhat after the interval when it was expected that Matlock would come out with all guns blazing to stage a dramatic recovery.
That never materialised and Castle had a relatively easy time in the Barwell goal. Half hearted penalty appeals were turned down almost immediately when Purkiss went down in the box but it was Barwell who came closest to the next goal when Tomkinson’s shot shaved the post.
Barwell closed Matlock down quickly and were definitely winning the midfield battle, Matlock becoming frustrated having Ted Cribley booked for a foul on Isaac Cooper and substitute Nicky Travis for dissent.
A promising move ended with Declan Towers heading a Cribley cross away for the first of two unproductive corners before a long Willis punt was helped on by McManus who could not then finish off the move.
But Matlock did not seriously threaten the Barwell back line often enough to lift spirits on the terraces and it was the visitors who sealed the victory with a stoppage time penalty, converted by ANTHONY CARNEY after Travis had brought down opposing substitute Callum Woodward.
After the euphoria of the win against Blyth Spartans seven days later, this was a terrible anti-climax and proved to manager Hume there is much hard work to be done. Defensively Matlock were poor but the performance as a whole was well below par.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 George Willis 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Ben Algar 4 Liam Gaughan (14 Alex Peterson 62) 5 Adam Yates 6 Craig Nelthorpe (15 Nicky Travis 56) 7 Ted Cribley 8 Liam Needham 9 Joel Purkiss 10 Danny Holland (16 Jack Siddall 66) 11 Niall McManus Other subs: 12 Scott Maxfield 17 Ryan Pugh
BARWELL: 1Liam Castle 2 Scott Lower 3 Isaac Cooper 4 Liam Kay 5 Declan Towers 6 Richard Lavery 7 Alex Tomkinson (12 Callum Woodward 89) 8 Nigel Julian 9 Jamie Towers 10 Owen Story (14 Brad Hickey 78) 11 Anthony Carney Other subs: 15 Edward Nisevic 16 Cameron Powell 17 Blaize Hunter
REFEREE: Ian Johnston (Leeds) ATTENDANCE: 246 BEST GLADIATOR: Niall McManus