Matlock Town 2-1 Whitby Town
Two goals in the last fourteen minutes from substitute Alex Pursehouse and top scorer Marcus Dinanga, the second with just a minute to go, saw Matlock overturn their half time deficit and claim three priceless points.
Third placed Whitby had gone in front on 27 minutes through Adam Gell and theuir slick passing and movement looked as if it would win the day, but never say die Matlock had other ideas.
It was a game that lived up to its pre-match billing and the healthy 395 crowd certainly had value for money and will be back for more.
Matlock were unchanged from the heroic FA Trophy victory at Solihull Moors last Saturday but included a new face on the bench in defender Mason Warren, on loan from Rotherham United.
Looking to avenge an unlucky 1-0 defeat at Whitby on November 5, Matlock began well having a succession of shots charged down but it was the Seasiders who had the first real chance as captain Steven Snaith forced Phil Barnes to dive to his right to beat away a well struck drive from the edge of the box.
The Gladiators responded positively. Joe Doyle Charles’ fine twenty five yarder saw goalkeeper Shane Bland fly to his right to claw away a shot destined for the top corner. Then on 18 minutes Niall McManus should have put the hosts in front, latching on to a clever back-heel from Marc Newsham only to screw his shot wide with only Bland to beat. In the next minute Bland caught Newsham’s header in Matlock’s best spell of the half.
After Jamie Yates had fired over the bar from distance, Whitby shook Matlock by taking the lead. Doyle-Charles looked to have been fouled but play continued, Callum Martin finding Dale Hopson with a deep cross which Hopson pulled across the six yard box from the left leaving GELL free to fire into the roof of the net.
Whitby’s neat concise passing game was pleasing on the eye and was causing Matlock problems. Those problems appeared to tough midfield challenges, Doyle-Charles limped off and was replaced by Pursehouse, who would later play a big part in Matlock’s victory.
Bland saved a strike from Dinanga but it was clear that Matlock had much to do in the second half in which they made a promising start, Nico Degirolamo having a header blocked by some excellent Whitby defending from a 51st minute corner.
Then Ted Cribley was introduced and Matlock now appeared to look more dangerous. His guile and ability to beat a defender with consumate ease soon became apparent but Matlock had an escape when Degirolamo was ideally placed to head a shot from Dave McTiernan off the line after the midfielder had rounded Barnes.
A second Whitby goal then might have seen the points going back to the Yorkshire coast.
But Matlock simply refuse to give up these days, even when they had the major disappointment of Jake Green having a goal ruled out with a quarter of an hour left, the assistant ruling that Newsham had strayed offside.
They kept on hammering away at the Whitby door which opened in the very next minute. Possession was won ten yards inside the Whitby half, the ball being sprayed out to Cribley on the left. Cribley kept his composure to cut into the box and provide an inch perfect pass for the onrushing PURSEHOUSE to drill a clinical finish past Bland for his first Matlock goal.
The home crowd found its voice as they willed Matlock forward to pile pressure on the Whitby goal. Whitby had the ball in the net through Snaith who was ruled to be offside but apart from that one attack it was virtually one way traffic in the opposite direction.
A tremendous twenty five yarder from Michael Williams flashed inches wide with Bland diving and beaten, by Williams with a cracking save before Newsham was narrowly of target with Whitby holding on grimly.
Their resistance was broken though when DINANGA found space in the box from a partially cleared corner to slide his finish low into the corner before being mobbed by his ecstatic team mates.
The crowd erupted with a mixture of joy and relief as valuable ground had been gained on a well organised and decent Whitby outfit. It had been a tense but altogether enjoyable game.
“They (Whitby) were the better side for an hour but then it was all us” said a delighted Craig Hopkins afterwards.
Now similar endeavour will be required in the Boxing Day derby with Buxton at the DCJ Group Arena.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Liam Marsden 3 Jake Green 4 Joe Doyle-Charles (14 Alex Pursehouse 43) 5 Nico Degirolamo 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Niall McManus 8 Michael Williams 9 Marc Newsham (15 Kevin Grocott 90) 10 Marcus Dinanga 11 Jamie Yates (12 Ted Cribley 52) Other sub: Mason Warren
WHITBY TOWN: 1 Shane Bland 2 Callum Martin 3 Daniel McWilliams 4 Andrew May 5 Luke Bytheway 6 Mark Robinson 7 Adam Gell (15 Kyle Fryatt 72) 8 David McTiernan 9 Steven Snaith 10 Matthew Tymon 11 Dale Hopson Other subs: 12 Michael Roberts 14 Anthony Hume 16 Kieron Welejdi 17 Daniel Dixon
REFEREE: Alan Bennett (Wigan) ATTENDANCE: 395 BEST GLADIATOR: Nico Degirolamo