Matlock Town 1-1 Stourbridge
Substitute Jack Siddall’s stoppage time equaliser not only earned Matlock a well deserved and hard fought point but barring any extraordinary circumstances, confirmed the Gladiators Premier Division status.
Hyde must now win all of their remaining three games convincingly and hope Matlock fail to collect a solitary point from their last four outings to draw level on points with the Gladiators. So while they just have the last few inches before the finishing line to negotiate, Matlock fans knew safety had been 99.99 per cent assured.
Stourbridge, in fourth spot before kick off, desperately needed a win themselves and while they are a good bet to qualify for the end of season competition, they were seeking a final third in the table placing to have home advantage.
But Matlock, despite having to alter their line up fifteen minutes before the start due to midfielder Nicky Travis breaking down in the pre match warm up and Adam Yates being declared unfit, were speedily out of the blocks with replacement Joel Purkiss turning neatly in the Glassboys’ penalty box to see goalkeeper Matt Gould parry his well struck drive.
Then Tom Burgin was in the thick of the action, his header being cleared off the line and the follow up from Purkiss being identically dealt with.
Playing with freedom and expressiveness not seen in their recent seven match losing sequence, Matlock had Stourbridge backpedalling again as Charlie Dawes saw a low shot blocked.
Stour’s potentially dangerous forward line, which included former Carlisle and Notts County striker Karl Hawley, scarcely had a kick early on as Tom Burgin and captain Micky Harcourt were strong and solid at the heart of the Gladiators defence.
It was 26 minutes before the visitors threatened when a deflected free kick was headed straight at George Willis by Dan Scarr. Tom Tonks’ gigantic throws seemed to be Stour’s most lethal weapon, aiming at Scarr and the equally tall Stuart Pierpoint, the latter heading too high from one on 35 minutes.
Liam Needham found room on the edge of the opposing penalty box only to pull his shot wide and Ted Cribley looks to be having a resurgence in form with some mazy penetrating runs from deep, he found Jordan Ball shortly before the interval but the shot flew harmlessly wide.
Nevertheless it had been a decent opening half from the Gladiators that had seen Hawley and strike partner Justin Richards become increasingly frustrated, that opening period ending on a feisty note as Richards twice tangled with Harcourt, neither player being prepared to give an inch.
It appeared as if Stourbridge had received some harsh words at half time for Matlock were immediately set a more searching examination on the resumption.
After Dawes was booked for a mistimed challenge on George Bowerman, Scarr headed Leon Broadhurst’s free kick back across goal for Richards to head at Willis. Then Richards shot wide after combining with Bowerman to be quickly followed by Willis turning aside a low Bowerman effort.
The pressure seemed unrelenting with Stourbridge threatening more in the first ten minutes of the second half than they had done throughout the opening period. Willis again did well to tip a Richards volley over the bar before Bowerman pulled another strike wide.
At last Matlock broke free for Scarr to be booked for fouling Ben Algar, the free kick being helped on to Jordan Ball at the back post who shot ferociously wide.
Having looked as if they had weathered the storm, Matlock went behind on 65 minutes when a Sean Geddes corner was flicked on for HAWLEY to nod past Willis.
Siddall replaced Dawes with a quarter of an hour left but it looked a tall order for Matlock to find an equaliser. However a never say die attitude mixed with resilience saw them stay above water. McManus looked to have been barged off the ball by Scarr in the penalty box before Tonks was the third and final booking for tripping McManus.
Harcourt’s free kick was charged down, Stour breaking quickly for Richards to fire too high from a Hawley centre.
Richards and Stourbridge would regret that miss as two minutes into time added on, Cribley’s excellent run and penetrating but simple pass found SIDDALL who was ice cool as he curled his shot past Gould.
Remarkably Matlock nearly won it when a low twenty five yarder from Purkiss produced a fine save from Gould much to the relief of the travelling contingent.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 George Willis 2 Jason Paling 3 Ben Algar 4 Joel Purkiss 5 Tom Burgin 6 Micky Harcourt 7 Ted Cribley 8 Liam Needham 9 Niall McManus 10 Jordan Ball 11 Charlie Dawes (16 Jack Siddall 75) Other subs: 12 Scott Maxfield 14 Danny Holland 15 Liam Gaughan 17 Ashley Bartle
STOURBRIDGE: 1 Matt Gould 2 Kristian Green 3 Dan Scarr 4 Sean Geddes 5 Brian Smikle 6 Stuart Pierpoint 7 George Bowerman (12 Ashley Vincent 84) 8 Leon Broadhurst 9 Karl Hawley 10 Justin Richards 11 Tom Tonks ( 14 Sam Whittall 89) Other subs: 15 Joe Hull 16 Drew Canavan
REFEREE: Justin Hayes (Manchester) ATTENDANCE: 226 BEST GLADIATOR: Ted Cribley