MATLOCK TOWN 3-1 GRANTHAM TOWN
A dominant second half display saw Matlock beat Grantham for the first time in four matches after they had been second best for the latter end of the opening period.
Two brilliant goals in the space of thirty seconds, one for each side, saw honours even at the interval but the Gladiators struck early in the second half and added a third shortly after the hour to give themselves some breathing space over a Gingerbreads outfit who had earlier belied their lowly placing.
On a chilly night which saw their lowest crowd of the campaign, Matlock played some neat incisive football early on with Saturday’s two goal hero Joel Purkiss twice going close as a shot from the edge of the box and a virtually free header both cleared the bar as did a Ben Saunders header for the visitors.
But the deadlock was broken when Matlock were awarded a 25th minute free kick thirty yards out which the nearly always accurate LAURIE WILSON curled clinically beyond the diving Jake Turner. It was a smashing effort but Matlock’s joy would last barely thirty seconds as visiting skipper JAMIE McGHEE blasted a ferocious twenty five yard half volley from the right which arrowed into the far corner past George Willis’ despairing dive to at least rival Wilson’s strike.
The equaliser seemed to knock the Gladiators for six as Grantham took the game by the scruff of the neck and were unfortunate not to lead by the break.
They had the ball in the net from a right wing corner but referee James Wilson had spotted some pushing and quickly blew his whistle. Matlock were being outfought at this stage and when winger Michael Emmott slipped beyond Micky Harcourt, Willis spectacularly pushed out his deflected shot with Liam Needham completing the clearance as Lee Shaw moved in for the kill.
Adam Yates was relieved to clear over his own bar and Willis pulled off a point blank stop from Lewis Carr before Matlock finally emerged from an uncomfortable spell for Purkiss to turn smartly and see his shot deflected wide for an unproductive corner.
A few words of wisdom from manager Mark Hume, plus the introduction of Tom Burgin into central defence and Wilson moving further forward paid dividends as Matlock regained their lead within five minutes of the restart with a beautifully constructed effort.
Craig Nelthorpe and then Niall McManus combined to find Ben Algar who quickly played a deft inside pass to PURKISS who netted his 15th goal of the campaign with a low shot off the inside of a post.
Four minutes later Wilson’s quick thinking nearly brought a memorable third goal, a free kick being taken swiftly and Wilson nearly catching Turner off his line from fully 45 yards, the goalkeeper backpedalling to turn the ball over.
Purkiss drove wide when well placed soon afterwards but the third and clinching goal came on 63 minutes with the referee taking huge credit for brilliantly applying the advantage clause as Purkiss was fouled. McManus then found the effervescent NICKY TRAVIS who threaded a low drive under Turner. Travis deserved his reward for an energetic and skilful display in midfield, scarcely wasting a pass and an opportunity to hurt Grantham.
Grantham had lost the fight they had shown earlier and substitute Danny Holland might have scored when well placed with what might have been his first touch, only to slip at the crucial moment.
Matlock rarely looked in trouble after that as they sensibly retained possession to move up to 13th in the table, having lost only one of their last six league matches.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 George Willis 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Craig Nelthorpe 4 Laurie Wilson 5 Adam Yates 6 Andy Gascoigne (14 Tom Burgin 46) 7 Nicky Travis 8 Liam Needham 9 Joel Purkiss (12 Danny Holland 76) 10 Niall McManus 11 Ben Algar (16 Jake Orrell 71) Other subs: 15 Charlie Dawes 17 Liam Gaughan
GRANTHAM TOWN: 1 Jake Turner 2 Danny Meadows 3 Ellis Storey 4 Michael Hollingworth (14 Ben Harris 76)5 Sam Purcicoe 6 Lewis Carr 7 Jamie McGhee (16 Stefan Bilyik 76) 8 Rhys Lewis 9 Lee Shaw (12 Alex Simmons 61) 10 Ben Saunders 11 Michael Emmott
REFEREE: J Wilson (Stockport) ATTENDANCE: 220 BEST GLADIATOR: Nicky Travis