NANTWICH TOWN 0-0 MATLOCK TOWN
Nothing could separate two good sides in a close, entertaining and well fought promotion clash at the Weaver Stadium on Tuesday night.
The result was just about right even though both teams had chances and although the Gladiators were more desperate for the extra two points than the Dabbers, they could be well satisfied with their night’s work.
University examination commitments ruled out Niall McManus so Ted Cribley came in as a direct replacement in the one change to the side that had convincingly beaten Ashton on Saturday. The second placed hosts though had suffered their first defeat in fourteen games losing 2-0 at home to Whitby.
It was clear from the start that Matlock meant business as they dominated the opening exchanges.
Cleveland Taylor, directing operations from midfield, was outstanding, his clever hoisted 5th minute pass giving Marcus Dinanga a chance which after a neat turn, he blasted into the sidenetting.
Home skipper Sam Hall was forced to nod a dangerous Matlock corner behind for a second flag kick which fell to Michael Williams whose low on target drive was well blocked by a covering Nantwich defender.
Williams then turned provider in the 15th minute with an astute flick to Cribley who after a magnificent turn, blasted narrowly wide from fifteen yards.
It was eighteen minutes before Nantwich had a sniff of a chance, albeit a difficult one as their lanky striker Vinny Mukendi stretched at the far post but failed to trouble Barnes as he met Ibou Touray’s cross from the left.
After Cribley fired wide Nantwich started to be a greater threat as they increasingly employed the speedy John Johnston and Joe Mwasile to worry Liam Marsden and Jake Green. But the two Matlock full backs stuck to their task magnificently, with Marsden particularly impressive against Mwasile who appeared to have a multitude of tricks up his sleeve,Johnston and Mwasile being probably the best wingers in the league.
From Mwasile’s 32nd minute cross, Matlock struggled to clear their lines, skipper Adam Yates eventually taking charge before Mukendi was left with a free header from a Johnston centre on the right but glanced wide in Matlock’s first and only scare of the opening period. That ended with a well worked Matlock corner , Cribley combining with the industrious Curtis Morrison who dragged his shot wide.
Yates though would pick up the only booking for a crunching late challenge on Msawile early in the second half. Matt Bell was comfortably wide with the free kick after earlier testing Phil Barnes who was right behind his firmly struck shot.
Both sides were looking to entertain and find that crucial opening goal, the match could have gone either way.
Bell was in the way of a low strike from Dwayne Wiley who had met Rhys Sharpe’s corner from the left, the game swiftly switching to the other end, substitute Josh Hancock forcing Barnes into a magnificent save from his acrobatic overhead bicycle kick strike.
Home goalkeeper Daniel Gyollai then held a Sharpe free kick before flying to his right to palm away a Cribley shot which looked destined for the bottom corner. Wiley drove over the bar from the resulting flag kick.
Determined defending from the men in yellow repelled a couple of dangerous raids from the hosts who came desperately close to an opener in the 79th minute when Hancock’s sizzling shot hit the inside of the post and stayed out.
It was a huge let off for Matlock who then tried to take full advantage and they might have done so with two minutes remaining when Adam Yates met a corner from the left but could not control his volley from ten yards, the ball always rising as it cleared the bar.
A miskick or a bobble on to Yates’ shin might have done the trick and as Matlock probed again in four minutes of added time, Taylor’s shot fell wide and both sides had to be content with a deserved point.
NANTWICH TOWN: 1 Daniel Gyollai 2 Andy White 3 Ibou Touray 4 Curtis Jones 5 Ben Harrison 6 Sam Hall (12 Josh Hancock 42) 7 John Johnston 8 Wayne Riley 9 Vinny Mukendi (14 Tom Peers 68) 10 Matt Bell 11 Joe Mwasile (17 Steve Jones 83) Other subs: 15 Ryan Brooke 16 Joel Stair
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Liam Marsden 3 Jake Green 4 Cleveland Taylor 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Ted Cribley 8 Michael Williams (12 Joe Doyle-Charles 69) 9 Curtis Morrison 10 Marcus Dinanga 11 Rhys Sharpe (17 Jamie Yates 81) Other subs: 14 Marc Newsham 15 Nico Degirolamo 16 Andy Wright
REFEREE: J Madine (Liverpool) ATTENDANCE: 315 BEST GLADIATOR: Liam Marsden