MATLOCK TOWN 1-0 MICKLEOVER SPORTS
The good news came early and late for Matlock Town fans as their side arrested their five game losing sequence with a much needed derby victory over Mickleover Sports on Tuesday night.
The welcome sight of goalkeeper Phil Barnes, out of retirement and warming up in the green number one shirt, was the first massive boost and the night was complete when Shaun Harrad netted the winner seventeen minutes from time to settle a closely fought contest.
Barnes was a calming influence, marshalling the back four with authority and although he was not called upon to make a difficult save all that often, it was easy to see the confidence which rippled through the Matlock side with their number one behind them.
Both sides had key personnel missing. Ryan Wilson, Michael Williams, Marc Newsham and Ted Cribley, all who would most likely have started, were all out through injury for Matlock, Sports being without former Matlock pair Tom Burgin and Bradley Grayson, plus dangerous winger Andy Dales.
Pouring rain greeted the teams as an absorbing battle got under way. Luis Rose was prominent for Matlock early on, a 5th minute cross from the right being superbly controlled by Harrad whose shot whistled inches past the post.
Then excellent defending by Jake Green at the other end saw him find a magnificent header to knock away a teasing Jimmy Phillips centre from the left.
But the 13th minute should have proved lucky for Matlock when Rose was again the provider. Having switched to the left flank, an inch perfect crossfield pass left Harrad clear with only former Town custodian Lewis King to beat. But Harrad slid his shot wide and a great chance to settle the nerves had gone.
Soon afterwards Rose planted a first timer from distance on to the top of the net before Sports had their one dangerous moment of the first half when another former Gladiator, Zeph Thomas escaped on the left with Matlock looking for the offside flag to pull a shot narrowly wide of the back post.
King held a Rose header and Joe Doyle-Charles, clearly relishing the midfield battle in the soggy conditions, shot wide from twenty five yards after Green scooped a similar attempt over the bar. The half ended scoreless as Barnes comfortably clutched a low shot from Evan Garnett, Thomas then escaping with a talking to for a bookable challenge on Rose.
That decision highlighted referee Hathaway’s inconsistency, with Rose being the only booking for an identical foul on Ben Turner in the second period.
Barnes at last was extended in the 54th minute as he got down brilliantly to block a piledriver from Turner, Matlock breaking at pace immediately as Rhys Sharpe delayed his shot with King badly out of position for his shot to strike yet another ex Matlockian, Kevin Grocott.
King came charging out of his area to seemingly handle, the referee appearing to blow his whistle and then wave play on after looking at his assistant.
Mickleover looked the more likely side at this point’ playing some attractive football but Matlock were dogged and determined as they stood their ground.
Then the Gladiators grabbed the all important winner, Mickleover not clearing their lines and HARRAD cleverly slipped the ball between King’s legs to the delight of the home support.
Two minutes later Harrad slid a difficult chance from a Sharpe centre narrowly wide and had a fantastic opportunity to double the lead with six minutes left.
Again Town broke swiftly, Tyler Blake looking up to feed Harrad who pushed his shot narrowly wide with only King in front of him.
Mickleover responded strongly but Matlock again defended with authority, Barnes not being troubled despite the pressure.
The final talking point was when Adam Yates went down after an off the ball clash with substitute Clinton Morrison three minutes from time. Matlock were awarded a free kick but there would be no punishment for Morrison, a decision which again had Matlock fans roaring with disapproval.
But the battle had been won, it was a good win against a capable side who had comfortably beaten Buxton at the Silverlands on Friday night.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Nico Degirolamo 3 Jake Green 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Luis Rose 8 Callum Lloyd 9 Shaun Harrad 10 Tyler Blake 11 Rhys Sharpe Subs-none used: 12 Jayden Cotterill 14 Niall Flint 15 Jamie Yates 16 Harry Wood 17 Callum Hawkins
MICKLEOVER SPORTS: 1 Lewis King 2 Reece Horne 3 Ben Turner 4 John McGrath 5 Pablo Mills 6 Kevin Grocott 7 Jimmy Phillips 8 Jake Scott (16 Clinton Morrison 81) 9 Evan Garnett 10 Zeph Thomas 11 Danny Gordon (15 Lewis Belgrave 76) Other subs: 12 Morgan Williams 14 Ben Morris 17 Nick Draper
REFEREE: R Hathaway (Tamworth) ATTENDANCE: 315 BEST GLADIATOR: Nico Degirolamo