Matlock Town 1-1 Nantwich Town
Matlock’s ten men battled magnificently to earn a point against play off chasing Nantwich and could easily have won it.
A scrambled goal, credited initially to Joel Purkiss but subject to change on viewing the match video had put the Gladiators in front on 37 minutes, but then Nicky Travis was involved in a clash with the arrogant Matty Kosylo five minutes later and was sent off.
It was Kosylo who bundled in the Dabbers leveller two minutes into the second half and the odds were then on the visitors finishing the job off.
But Mark Hume’s men had different ideas, they defended brilliantly, mixing no nonsense clearances with intelligent breaks, and caused Nantwich more problems than they were perhaps expecting when they attacked.
There were excellent performances all over the field but centre backs Adam Yates and Tom Burgin were faultless, Burgin on more than one occasion harming himself after tremendous challenges and blocks.
Laurie Wilson captained the side from midfield as Hume brought in Liam Gaughan and Craig Nelthorpe for the injured Ben Algar and rested Danny Holland.
Nantwich, through to the last eight of the FA Trophy and at home to National League Premier Dover Athletic this weekend, fielded virtually their first choice line up, and began much the better,the hosts having to work hard to remain on level terms.
Josh Hancock saw well struck efforts pass firstly too high and then wide in the opening five minutes and Liam Shotton’s back header from a move on the left bounced across the danger area.
But gradually Matlock weathered the early storm for Purkiss to turn but shoot yards wide after 20 minutes. Burgin often made the best use of his long legs and ability in the air to thwart Nantwich, no more so than a minute later when a long hopeful punt forward suddenly held up giving Shotton an unexpected shooting chance, but there was Burgin with the interception of the game, the defender needing treatment from physio Mark Mullins as he lay prostrate on the turf.
Matthew Bell’s shot was always rising as he met a left wing centre from Lewis Short before a couple of half chances came Matlock’s way prior to them taking the lead.
A Wilson free kick was deflected for a corner and with Yates, Burgin and Purkiss in the mix, it was PURKISS who was given the goal although even so, Nantwich goalkeeper Terry Smith might have managed the final touch.
The red card for Travis soon followed for striking out at Kosylo with allegations that Kosylo had headbutted the Matlock midfielder first and being disappointingly missed by referee Eddie Pidduck and his assistants, the interval giving time for feelings to calm down.
It was a blow for the hosts as Nantwich soon equalised, KOSYLO rubbing salt into Matlock’s wounds by beating George Willis to a right wing corner to nod in from close range and two more fantastic Burgin interceptions followed with Yates doing well to knock a corner over his own bar. A fiercely hit strike from Matt Bailey flashed wide.
But Matlock also had belief they could win, Nelthorpe attacking from deep to fire narrowly too high and a trademark Wilson free kick being superbly pushed to safety by the diving Smith. From the resulting corner, Holland, who had replaced Purkiss only three minutes earlier, glanced a header against the bar.
Some questionable offsides against a highly frustrated McManus harshly halted three other attacks and a Ted Cribley effort was kept out by Smith as Matlock threatened the victory.
At the other end Willis was equal to substitute Sean Cooke’s shot and a Bell effort fell wide before Shotton’s poor night was capped by lifting Steve Jones’ centre high over the goal frame.
Matlock fully deserved their draw, and were applauded off. Kosylo, meanwhile, who should also have joined Travis in the dressing room before half time, attempted to pick a fight with Nelthorpe as the players left the pitch and tarnished his already damaged reputation even further by making abusive hand gestures to the crowd as he signed off for the night.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 George Willis 2 Liam Gaughan 3 Craig Nelthorpe 4 Laurie Wilson 5 Adam Yates 6 Tom Burgin 7 Ted Cribley 8 Liam Needham 9 Joel Purkiss (12 Danny Holland 65) 10 Niall McManus 11 Nicky Travis Other subs: 14 Charlie Dawes 15 Micky Harcourt 16 Scott Maxfield 17 Ryan Pugh
NANTWICH TOWN: 1 Terry Smith 2 Andy White 3 Lewis Short 4 Ben Harrison 5 Matt Bailey 6 Elliott Osbourne ( 15 Sean Cooke 65) 7 Matty Kosylo 8 Sam Hall (12 Steve Jones 75) 9 Liam Shotton 10 Matty Bell 11 Josh Hancock Other subs: 13 Kristian Borzynski 14 John Moran 16 Danny Griggs
REFEREE: E Pidduck (Beeston) ATTENDANCE: 223 BEST GLADIATOR: Tom Burgin