Matlock Town 2-2 Mickleover Sports
The Mickleover bogy struck again for Matlock as the rugged Derby side battled their way to a point to put a stutter into the Gladiators charge to the play-offs.
Matlock were twice behind so from that viewpoint,it was a point gained but in the overall scheme of things. a below par showing where they were bullied out of the game meant it was two points dropped. Matlock would surely have been looking for all three points from this game.
Weak refereeing certainly did not help Matlock who were subject to a lot of rough treatment from Sports players who were simply allowed to get away with it. When former Matlock loanee Jack Broadhead eventually saw red for his second yellow card, there was only a minute left. What was even more surprising was that Broadhead was the only player shown a card during the contest, and the referee did not clamp down on timewasting by Sports custodian Nick Draper who was slowing play down unforgivably even in the early part of the opening half..
But Matlock never really got going in a game crying out for a touch of extra quality and class. A great crowd of 524, with only possibly 20 from Mickleover, were left waiting for Matlock to assert themselves, but in the end they never did.
The initial signs looked promising with Draper holding an Adam Yates header in the 5th minute, this being quickly followed by Marcus Dinanga cutting inside from the right before dragging his shot wide and Dwayne Wiley nodding a free kick directly at Draper.
Broadhead received his first booking for a poor challenge on Ted Cribley in the 20th minute, but the referee was missing a host of other Sports fouls. Cribley fired straight at Draper before against the run of the play the dangerous flanker Andy Dales engineered the opening goal in the 32nd minute, easing past Marsden on the left to set up former Eire international and much travelled striker CLINTON MORRISON who steered a low shot past Phil Barnes.
Matlock needed to respond quickly and the equaliser should have come three minutes before the interval when Dinanga created a marvellous chance for Niall McManus who scooped his shot over the bar with only Draper to beat. But right on the stroke of half time Matlock found the net from the penalty spot, DINANGA calmly stroking in his 28th goal of the season after Paul Ennis had been chopped down.
That should have been the fillip Matlock needed to go on and win the game. Curtis Morrison replaced Ennis at the interval but the Gladiators nearly made the worst possible start to the second half when inside the opening minute Joe Doyle-Charles carelessly gave the ball away and it needed a fine save from Barnes to deny Tyler Blake in a one on one duel.
At the other end, shots from Cribley and Michael Williams were both off target. that extra spark still being required. The hosts looked in deep water when their defence opened up alamingly leaving BLAKE in acres of space to slip the calmest of finishes low past Barnes to regain the lead for Sports on 61 minutes.
But Matlock were back on level terms again within three minutes, WILLIAMS curling one of his trademark free kicks over the wall and in off the underside of the bar. Surely now, Matlock would go on and win it.
The game was now played almost exclusively in the Sports half but Matlock did not create enough chances to take all three points. Nico de Girolamo fired comfortably wide and Curtis Morrison shot over the bar following a penalty box scramble.
After the Broadhead dismissal, Williams headed wide from a corner as the Gladiators had to settle for just a point and drop two places in the table to fifth.
Storm Doris had battered the ground on Thursday, the Matlock players had taken a similar hit on Saturday with little protection. However they did not do enough themselves or for once have the guile to see off a side who came for a point and got it.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Liam Marsden 3 Nico De Girolamo 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Niall McManus 8 Michael Williams 9 Paul Ennis (16 Curtis Morrison 46) 10 Marcus Dinanga 11 Ted Cribley
Other subs: 12 Andy Wright 14 Jake Green 15 Cleveland Taylor 17 Marc Newsham
MICKLEOVER SPORTS: 1 Nick Draper 2 Drew Ricketts 3 Ben Turner 4 Kevin Grocott 5 Pablo Mills 6 Tom Burgin 7 Andy Dales 8 Clinton Morrison (15 Kuda Muskwe 66) 9 Tyler Blake 10 Tom Slone 11 Jack Broadhead Other subs: 12 Jake Dickenson 14 Adriel George 16 Adam Baskerville 17 Jamie Green
REFEREE: Sam Mulhall (Northwich) ATTENDANCE: 524 BEST GLADIATOR: Michael Williams