SPENNYMOOR TOWN 1-2 MATLOCK TOWN
Matlock produced an outstanding battling performance to beat the NPL Premier Division title favourites in their own back yard, a victory made all the more commendable with a notably under full strength line up.
Town travelled up the A1 without the suspended Michael Williams, Ted Cribley who had to work and leading scorer Marc Newsham with a hamstring injury, although Newsham was named on the bench but would not have been called upon. With Williams; possible replacement Nicky Travis also injured but on the bench, Matlock had to reorganise bringing in Alex Pursehouse and Jamie Yates to midfield while Curtis Morrison partnered Marcus Dinanga up front. Dwayne Wiley was recalled with Nico de Girolamo named as a substitute, academy players Ben Edgson and Jordan Lee completing the squad.
Spennymoor, also through to the FA Cup First Round and facing a trip to MK Dons, were therefore hot favourites and there was another worry for the Gladiators when Joe Doyle -Charles appeared to injure himself in the pre match warm up, but thankfully from the visitors viewpoint, he appeared to be okay.
Matlock attacked up the pronounced Brewery Field slope in the first half and in a tight opening there was little noteworthy action until out of the blue, they went ahead after 12 minutes, NIALL McMANUS, operating on the left, collecting the ball out wide to cut in and float in a teasing ball that may have been a cross or may have been a shot, but former Alfreton goalkeeper Dan Lowson erred badly as he misjudged the flight and was left with a red face with the ball nestling in his net. Lowson had made an unconvincing start earlier allowing a routine shot from Macus Dinanga to bounce off his body.
The Moors almost immediately won two quick corners before Robert Ramshaw’s volley cleared the bar but Matlock replied with home skipper Chris Mason being forced to head Jake Green’s awkward free kick over his own bar before Wiley saw his header held by Lowson.
Adam Yates did well with a clearing header as Spennymoor looked for a way back as Matlock generally defended well and were the better side in the opening half. A poor decision from referee Gillespie when he ruled Wiley had fouled Tom Craddock put the visitors under unnecessary pressure but the defensive wall did its job in blocking Mason’s free kick.
A clash of heads involving Doyle Charles and home striker Graeme Armstrong saw Armstrong come off worse as he was led off and replaced by Nathan Fisher shortly before the interval when Matlock could be highly satisfied with their efforts thus far.
Spennymoor were out early for the second half, most probably with a collective flea in their ears and they were instantly more businesslike, equalising inside four minutes.
Adam Yates headed out a cross from Kallum Griffiths but Shane Henry won the ball back and his through pass beat Wiley to find MARK ANDERSON who drilled a low shot beyond Phil Barnes.
The goal was the impetus for Spennymoor to have their best spell of the match. A long range strike from midfield playmaker Jamie Chandler was narrowly off target and Barnes kept Matlock level on 57 minutes as he superbly fingertipped a Ramshaw header over the bar. Then Adam Yates clearly won the ball as he went in on Craddock, the referee compounding his error by booking the Gladiators skipper whose fifth yellow card of the campaign puts him out of the trip to table topping Whitby this weekend.
Wiley’s tremendous tackle halted Anderson’s run before Matlock broke for Dinanga to fire directly at Lawson but it was a brief respite for Town who needed their captain to produce a great block from an Anderson shot before Barnes turned away a strike from Henry.
But Matlock weathered the storm and regained control for much of the final twenty minutes
McManus switched to the right flank and crossed for Morrison who diverted the ball narrowly over the bar before a rare and surprise McManus header nearly caught out Lowson who caught the ball at full stretch. Town’s number seven was well placed on the right again, his cross fizzing across the six yard area before being deflected clear.
A volley from substitute David Dowson was too high but it was Matlock and McManus on the right who always looked the more dangerous.
However the winner came from a move down the left as Dinanga fed MORRISON who at full stretch, forced his foot around the ball before it went out, the cross shot squirming under Lowson and over the line. Lowson for the second time in the match, was left to reflect on an embarrassing mistake which had been costly for his side.
Dinanga pulled a shot wide after neatly holding on to the ball and halfway through five minutes of stoppage time a fantastic thirty yard strike from Adam Yates looked to be dropping just under the bar until Lowson spectacularly tipped the ball upwards to safety.
Matlock sensibly retained possession to record what on the journey up looked an unlikely victory. But the spirit in the squad never ceases to amaze people at present. Everyone again worked their socks off with Jake Green shading the man of the match from a long list of other candidates for his energy at both ends of the pitch, making a host of good challenges in defence and looking sprightly and dangerous when he attacked.
SPENNYMOOR TOWN: 1 Dan Lowson 2 Kallum Griffiths 3 Chris Mason 4 Jamie Chandler 5 Joe Tait 6 Ian Watson 7 Rob Ramshaw 8 Shane Henry 9 Tom Craddock (12 Andrew Johnson 69) 10 Graeme Armstrong (15 Nathan Fisher 44), 11 Mark Anderson (14 David Dowson 76) Other subs: 16 James Gott 17 Andrew Rafferty
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Liam Marsden 3 Jake Green 4 Joe Doyle Charles 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Niall McManus 8 Alex Pursehouse 9 Curtis Morrison 10 Marcus Dinanga 11 Jamie Yates (12 Nico de Girolamo 86) Other subs: 14 Ben Edgson 15 Jordan Lee 16 Marc Newsham 17 Nicky Travis
REFEREE: M Gillespie (Teeside) ATTENDANCE: 393 BEST GLADIATOR: Jake Green