Halesowen Town 3-2 Matlock Town
Halesowen continued to hold the Indian sign over Matlock, this being their fifth win over the Gladiators in two seasons, and in six contests, the Yeltz have hit nineteen goals into the back of the Matlock net.
The final scoreline suggests a close game but Halesowen created far more chances than Matlock who were pleased to be still level with a blank scoresheet at the interval.
Then soon after the break Matlock quickly found themselves two goals adrift due to poor defending, gone was the defensive solidity which was a key element in their two single goal victories against Ashton United and Rushall Olympic in their previous two matches.
Manager Mark Hume made a bold triple substitution shortly afterwards which at least made Matlock more dangerous and Danny Holland halved the deficit only for Matlock to give away another poor goal with three minutes left to ensure Halesowen’s deserved victory. Holland’s second in stoppage time counted for nothing.
Unsurprisingly it was an unchanged starting line up that took to the field at The Grove, Ted Cribley having been passed fit after being helped off in midweek.
The early exchanges were unspectacular and it was 14 minutes before there was any goalmouth activity as from one of many dangerous exocet long throws from Isaac Cooper, Jay Denny headed goalwards, the ball being well claimed by goalkeeper George Willis.
Willis was well placed eleven minutes later to hold a low shot from Cooper who had broke at pace down the left from Keyon Reffell’s pass, Matlock then instantly retaliating with a move up the left in which Niall McManus was heavily involved. But Sam Smith was penalised for impeding goalkeeper Daniel Platt as he tried to meet Ben Algar’s cross.
Matlock then survived a couple of scrambles as the ball bounced around their penalty box before Algar did just enough to put off Reece Hales as he bore down on Willis.
Efforts from Liam Needham and Laurie Wilson wee comfortably wide of the target before Halesowen threatened again shortly before the half time whistle as Cooper’s cross from the left was again scrambled clear.
Any hopes that Matlock might have had of altering the pattern of results in the fixture were extinguished by the 53rd minute, thanks to some awful defending.
Two minutes into the new half Algar smashed his clearance against Adam Yates, the ball falling to Cooper whose fierce drive was brilliantly kept out by Willis. The resulting corner was not effectively cleared and HULL made Matlock pay with a superbly controlled twenty yard volley that lit up Non League Day.
There was worse to come as DANIEL BRAGOLI was left free in the Gladiators penalty box, Willis parrying his initial shot but the Matlock defenders did not react quickly enough and the Halesowen number eight had the simple job of stabbing the ball into the vacant net.
Five minutes later Hume took off Jason Paling, Algar and Needham, sending on Craig Nelthorpe, Harry Coates and Jordan Deacey.
Matlock at last looked a little more business like and their deficit was halved as Nelthorpe fed McManus whose cross was converted by a fine flicked HOLLAND header on 69 minutes.
The Gladiators continued to look vulnerable at the back though and Yates, Matlock’s talisman defender was experiencing his toughest test of the season so far from Keyon Reffell’s pace and strength. Yates though did well to block a Reffell strike before Micky Harcourt cleared a Hull header off the line.
But Halesowen clinched the points as Matlock again were punished for some lazy defending, substitute GREG PEARSON being left with a free header from a free kick on the right.
Smith nodded a Wilson cross too high when well placed as the game entered stoppage time and then HOLLAND netted his second, turning in a deep Harcourt centre at the far post.
But the goal was strictly in the consolation class as it came far too late to save Matlock who failed to reproduce the battling, steely qualities shown during the previous week.
HALESOWEN TOWN: 1 Daniel Platt 2 Kyle Morrison 3 Aaron Griffiths, 4 Jay Denny 5 Joe Hull 6 Rob Elvins 7 Asa Charlton 8 Daniel Bragoli (12 Greg Pearson 73) 9 Keyon Reffell (14 George McGee 90) 10 Reece Hales 11 Isaac Cooper (15 Anthony Charles 81) Other subs: 16 Jean-Michel Gueyes 17 Matthew Sargeant
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 George Willis 2 Jason Paling ( 15 Harry Coates 58) 3 Ben Algar (12 Craig Nelthorpe 58) 4 Laurie Wilson 5 Adam Yates 6 Micky Harcourt 7 Ted Cribley 8 Liam Needham (14 Jordan Deacey 58), 9 Sam Smith 10 Danny Holland 11 Niall McManus Other subs: 16 Joel Purkiss 17 Nicky Travis
REFEREE: Chris Husband (Worcester) ATTENDANCE: 450 BEST GLADIATOR: George Willis