SHTON UNITED 1-0 MATLOCK TOWN
Matlock’s hopes of a play off spot receded on a damp, heavy Hurst Cross surface where hosts Ashton deservedly took the spoils after an indifferent showing from the visitors.
The game was decided by the contest’s best forward, Matty Chadwick, in the 51st minute but he would later be sent off for a second bookable offence and will miss the return game at the DCJ Group Arena this weekend.
A disappointed Glenn Kirkwood said afterwards “we were poor, Phil Barnes was outstanding, Joe Doyle-Charles did ok but that was just about it, nobody else performed.”
Barnes was star man, he kept the difference down to the single goal. Ashton showed a greater desire and won most of the 50-50 balls to support the old addage that teams need to earn the right to play first. Matlock were constantly closed down, the pitch also not suiting their playing style. While they tried and huffed and puffed, the Gladiators could still have done more to turn the game in their favour and not run the risk of their league campaign petering away. Mid table Ashton, though deserve immense credit for their performance.
With Adam Yates (knee) and Michael Williams (back) declared not fit enough to start after being hurt in the win against Stafford, Nico de Girolamo and Andy Wright deputised.
The match was being contested in midfield in the opening stages, the first opportunity of note falling to Marcus Dinanga on 16 minutes. Played through by Cleveland Taylor, Dinanga’s shot was kept out by goalkeeper Luke Pilling. Wright’s shot then hit a fellow Gladiator shortly after Charlie Duke had been booked for bringing down Doyle-Charles.
Barnes was soon to make his first excellent stop of the afternoon as he also made use of the post to deny Jack Styche before Chadwick cut through the Gladiators defence only for Barnes again to intervene with a quality save.
After Liam Marsden was booked for a mistimed challenge on Chadwick, the Ashton number eleven was given another chance, but again Barnes reacted swiftly and positively to push out the shot before the off balance Chadwick hooked the rebound hopelessly wide.
Wright had a chance to turn the game Matlock’s way when he ploughed through the centre on to another through pass but was thwarted by fine defending from Max Cartwright who charged the shot down allowing Pilling to claim possession comfortably.
But Matlock were grateful to both Barnes and the woodwork three minutes before half time, Cartwright meeting Chadwick’s corner from the left and striking the post, fellow defender Simon Woodford’s follow up being blaocked on the line.
A Dwayne Wiley header from Rhys Sharpe’s free kick on the left was narrowly too high as Matlock looked to begin the second half on the offensive but they were soon facing problems as CHADWICK was free to poke a lob over the advancing Barnes to put the Robins in front.
Richard Smith drove wide of the near post before Ryan Crowther delayed his shot allowing the excellent Barnes again to keep the Gladiators in contention with another smart save.
Chadwick’s earlier caution, a needless one for kicking the ball away, would return to haunt him on 64 minutes when he slid into Doyle-Charles and leave his side with ten men.
But Ashton merely increased their workrate as the Gladiators lacked the inspiration to find a crucial equalising goal. Sharpe was ridiculously booked for simulation after he went to ground despite twice being fouled as he advanced into the box.
Dinanga had Matlock’s best chance of salvation after being found by Ted Cribley, but his shot from the edge of the box harmlessly cleared the bar as the Gladiators failed to trouble Pilling in the second period.
There was stifled penalty appeals from Taylor in the dying stages, but Hurst Cross has rarely been a happy hunting ground for Matlock who have recorded just one NPL victory there and it proved to be the case again. They slipped to tenth as they looked a weary outfit and for a rare time this term, devoid of ideas.
ASHTON UNITED: 1 Luke Pilling 2 Dominic Smalley 3 Stephen Mason 4 Max Cartwright 5 Simon Woodford 6 Mark Lees 7 Charlie Duke (14 Richard Smith 25) 8 Josh Stachini 9 Jack Dyche (12 Cavell Coo 84) 10 Ryan Crowther (15 Lee Knight 77) 11 Matty Chadwick Other subs: 16 Jody Banim 17 Will Haining
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Liam Marsden 3 Jake Green 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Nico Degirolamo (16 Michael Williams 84) 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Ryhs Sharpe 8 Cleveland Taylor 9 Andy Wright (15 Curtis Morrison 55) 10 Marcus Dinanga 11 Ted Cribley (14 Niall McManus 77) Other subs: 12 Marc Newsham 17 Adam Yates
REFEREE: Lewis Raper ATTENDANCE: 201 BEST GLADIATOR: Phil Barnes