Whitby Town 1-0 Matlock Town
Three questions can be posed from Matlock’s trip to table toppers Whitby last Saturday.
Did Matlock deserve to lose, would a draw have been fair and did they even do enough to win, given their strong second half assault on the Whitby goal?
The answers would be no, yes and possibly in that order but Matlock had the disappointment of suffering their first league reverse since September 24 at Mickleover as Dale Hopson’s eleventh goal of the season saw the points stay at the seaside.
Both teams deserve the utmost credit for providing the fans with an entertaining game on a gloomy, wild North Yorkshire afternoon as a baltic swirling wind made it difficult for the players.
But it was soon apparent that both teams like to play football and the controlled build up by playing the ball on the floor was easily the best option.
Both teams had a leading light out through suspension, captain Adam Yates being replaced by Nico de Girolamo at the heart of the Gladiators defence while midfield playmaker Steven Snaith missed out for the Seasiders. Matlock included latest signing, former Burton Albion defender Kevin Grocott on the bench.
Whitby had a sniff of goal in only the third minute as Mikey Roberts broke through from the left but his twenty yard shot passed harmlessly past Phil Barnes’ left hand post.. The hosts looked dangerous as they looked for every opportunity to release wing back Kieran Weledji down the right and they failed to make the most of a couple of crosses which flashed across the visitors’ penalty box.
But Matlock came closest to the opening goal in the 15th minute when Niall McManus teased full back Danny McWilliams on the right to cut in and force home goalkeeper Shane Bland into an outstanding finger tip save over the bar for an unproductive corner. McManus tried his luck in similar circumstances eight minutes later but a deflection took the sting out of his shot and Bland saved comfortably.
A shot from captain for the day Joe Doyle-Charles was too high from a corner on the left played short, and Marcus Dinanga drove wide to bring the half to a close with little to choose between two well matched sides.
Matlock made a positive start to the second period with Curtis Morrison firing narrowly too high and Michael Williams following him from thirty yards and Whitby were having to defend well as skipper Mark Robinson led by example with a superb sliding tackle on McManus as the Gladiator was pulling the trigger.
Whitby though might have gone in front when Matty Tymon’s glancing header from a Hopson cross on the left had Barnes diving at full stretch to claw the ball around the post.
Matlock replied almost straightaway as Ted Cribley hoisted a shot from twenty five yards that had Bland backpedalling to tip the ball overbefore Bland saved again from Cribley from the resulting corner.
The wind intensified as hail stones lashed down and the forecast became bleak for Matlock when HOPSON put Whitby ahead in the 63rd minute. Tymon headed down a McWilliams cross from the left and Hopson sidefooted home.
McWilliams had a chance to double the lead soon afterwards but his shot was tame allowing Barnes to save comfortably but from that point onwards it was a case of Whitby hanging grimly on as Matlock poled on the pressure. Morrison twice struck the post as it became apparent it would not be the Gladiators day, he and Nico de Girolamo also headed wide when well placed and McManus skied a fifteen yarder high over the bar.
Whitby’s unbeaten home record therefore remained intact, with Matlock left to reflect that they deserved more for their efforts, but in a visit to the league leaders who have an impressive defence, there was a need to put away the chances that came their way.
WHITBY TOWN: 1 Shane Bland 2 Kieran Weledji 3 Danny McWilliams 4 Andrew May 5 Luke Bythway 6 Mark Robinson 7 Adam Gell (14 Callum Martin 63) 8 David McTiernan 9 Mikey Roberts (12 Anthony Hume 88) 10 Matty Tymon 11 Dale Hopson Other subs: 15 Jack Blackford 16 Lee Bullock 17 Danny Dixon
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Liam Marsden 3 Jake Green 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Nico de Girolamo 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Niall McManus 8 Michael Williams 9 Curtis Morrison 10 Marcus Dinanga ( 14 Marc Newsham 68) 11 Ted Cribley Other subs: 12 Alex Pursehouse 15 Jamie Yates 16 Kevin Grocott 17 Nicky Travis
REFEREE: Aaron Bannister (Pontefract) ATTENDANCE> 306 BEST GLADIATOR: Dwayne Wiley