MATLOCK TOWN 2-1 HALESOWEN TOWN
Nico Degirolamo scored a last gasp winner to reignite Matlock’s play off challenge after Matlock had dominated the contest, despite being reduced to ten men since the 27th minute.
Debutant Cleveland Taylor was given what could be described as the most ridiculous red card of the season , his foot accidentally catching Ethan Delaney who had arrived on Taylor’s blind side.
But Matlock did not let that huge slice of misfortune bother them and within a further ten minutes Michael Williams put them in front, and although Halesowen levelled with only their second strike at goal with twenty minutes remaining, Matlock refused to lie down and they eventually got the result their industry deserved.
Taylor came in for Andrew Wright in the one change to the team beaten at Blyth seven days earlier, Wright though would play a prominent part after Taylor’s dismissal. Adam Yates, not fully fit after his kidney infection was also named as a substitute.
Taylor was using all of his vast experience as Matlock attacked from the start, talking and cajoling his team mates in what began as a promising debut.
The hosts nearly went ahead in the 8th minute, Halesowen goalkeeper Daniel Platt flinging himself spectacularly to his left to claw away Marcus Dinanga;s header. Soon afterwards Dinanga fired over the bar from the edge of the box before Niall McManus, who must have covered every blade of grass, combined sweetly with Ted Cribley, his cross being hacked out for a corner from which Marc Newsham should have put the Gladiators in front.
With only Platt to beat, Newsham opted for a side footed placement finish which the goalkeeper read and saved reasonably comfortably.
Then came the red card which could have switched the game dramatically in Halesowen’s favour.
Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins withdrew Newsham and sent on Wright and within two minutes the substitute made his mark, winning possession and finding Cribley who in turn released MICHAEL WILLIAMS to net with a belter of a shot of a post from twenty five yards on 37 minutes. Williams had a further effort charged down as Matlock still dominated, despite being a man down. All Halesowen had to show so far was a shot across goal from Tristian Dunkley after 25 minutes.
Wright fired over the bar from distance as Town, uncharacreristically, attacked the Town End in the second half. Referee Lewis Smith showed his inexperience as he got in Williams’ way as he teed up a shot, his popularity with the home crowd having dipped with the Taylor red card.
Top scorer Dinanga should have added to his tally when he outstripped the trailing Yeltz defence but his finish drifted wide and Platt saved superbly from McManus.
Matlock really needed to put these kind of chances away and it was emphasised succinctly when the visitors netted a surprise equaliser. Dunkley did well to beat Dwayne Wiley on the left to pull an inviting ball back for substitute JAMES BENNETT-TINDALL who fired low past Phil Barnes who had been largely redundant so far.
A point was of more use to the Yeltz than the Gladiators who brought on their second Friday signing in Paul Ennis and also brought on Curtis Morrison.
Barnes saved a strike from Matthew Birley but Matlock continued to dominate , the door though remaining shut until the third minute of stoppage time when the Gladiators won a corner on the right.
DEGIROLAMO escaped the clutches of his marker to knock in the decider with a calm finish to leave most of the 382 crowd rejoicing, probably with relief more than anything else. It was their first league win for a month, a vital one at that having been beaten in their last three games. It was a just reward for their resilience and their excellent attitude, they simply kept on going when circumstances prevailed against them.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Liam Marsden 3 Jake Green 4 Cleveland Taylor 5 Nico Degirolamo 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Niall McManus 8 Michael Williams ( 16 Curtis Morrison 83) 9 Marc Newsham (14 Andy Wright 35) 10 Marcus Dinanga 11 Ted Cribley (17 Paul Ennis 80) Other subs: 12 Adam Yates 15 Jamie Yates
HALESOWEN TOWN 1 Daniel Platt 2 Jordan Wheatley (16 Cash Wallace 46) 3 Bradley Lewis (12 Liam Slade 68) 4 Jay Denny 5 Kyle Morrison 6 Asa Charlton 7 Daniel Bragoli ( 14 James Bennett-Tindale 66) 8 Matthew Birley 9 Tristian Dunkley 10 Ethan Delaney 11 Lee Chilton Other subs: 15 Ben Clarke 17 Kartel Martin-O’Neill
REFEREE: Lewis Smith (Wigan) ATTENDANCE: 382 BEST GLADIATOR: Niall McManus