STAMFORD 2-0 MATLOCK TOWN
A poor overall performance, probably their worst of the season, saw Matlock deservedly beaten to concede a league double to the struggling Daniels.
Stamford looked geared up for the challenge from the off and it was the hosts start that in the end proved to be pivotal, setting the tone by pushing Matlock immediately back and dominating the play. If Matlock could have survived the early onslaught it could have been a different story but Jake Newman scored in the 21 st minute before he later confirmed the win with a second three minutes from time.
Micky Harcourt replaced the suspended Adam Yates in central defence and with Laurie Wilson also banned, Danny Holland was included in two changes from the team which had battled magnificently to earn a point at home to Nantwich in midweek.
Sadly the characteristics so ably demonstrated then wee not replicated at the Zeeco Stadium.
There were scarcely any positives to take from the game, save for a first appearance at senior level for academy student Lewis Brown, who came off the bench near the end to replace Craig Nelthorpe.
With a strong wind at their backs, the hosts were on the offensive straightaway, and when full back Ollie Luto swung in a deep cross from the left in the 3rd minute, burly striker Greg Smith stretched to nod wide. Six minutes later Smith set up Newman whose stinging drive was pushed away by George Willis, Matlock scrambling the ball clear.
Some clever footwork by Niall McManus forced a Matlock corner which was comfortably dealt with, but Stamford responded forcing three successive corners of their own as the pressure intensified.
Paul Malone had the ball in the net but a handling offence ruled the effort out, before Stamford again threatened as Jake Duffy’s pass found Newman who sliced wide of Willis ‘left hand post.
But the pressure told when Lee Beeson’s cross from the right was met by a smartly flicked near post header from NEWMAN which flashed past Willis.
Strangely though Stamford wee unable to maintain the pressure and there was hope for Matlock from a free kick twenty five yards from goal but Harcourt’s shot was blocked by a Stamford back line intent on giving little away. A volley from Joel Purkiss flew wide as the half ended with Matlock in contention but needing to do more as an attacking force in the second period.
The Gladiators enjoyed the lion’s share of the second half play but were toothless in attack, Stamford’s 45 yr old goalkeeper Paul Bastock having a relatively easy afternoon.
He had little to do apart from cutting out a Purkiss cross, which had it beaten him would have probably found Holland in a scoring position and doing likewise in smothering a cross shot from Ted Cribley.
Purkiss, Liam Needham and a Tom Burgin header were all harmlessly off target before Jordan Smith screwed a shot wide at the other end on 82 minutes.
But the precious points were secure for Stamford when Duffy’s powerful strike was knocked away by Willis but only to NEWMAN who forced home the loose ball.
Cribley headed against the bar at the death with Purkiss only able to prod the follow up at Bastock, but it was far too little, far too late as far as Matlock were concerned.
STAMFORD : 1 Paul Bastock 2 Taron Hare 3 Ollie Luto 4 Paul Malone 5 Sam Hill 6 Curtis Hartley ( 14 Tom Batchelor 46) 7 Lee Beeson (17 Chris Hamilton 74) 8 Jake Duffy 9 Greg Smith 10 Jake Newman 11 Jordan Smith Subs not used: 12 Jon Challinor, 15 James Jepson 16 Jack Wightwick
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 George Willis 2 Liam Gaughan 3 Craig Nelthorpe (15 LewisBrown 88) 4 Nicky Travis 5 Micky Harcourt 6 Tom Burgin 7 Ted Cribley 8 Liam Needham 9 Joel Purkiss 10 Danny Holland (12 Charlie Dawes 72) 11 Niall McManus Subs not used: 14 Matt Wilkinson 16 Scott Maxfield 17 Mark Hume
REFEREE: Ian Dudley (Mansfield) ATTENDANCE: 316 BEST GLADIATOR: Ted Cribley