MATLOCK TOWN 0-1 SHAW LANE
League leaders Shaw Lane made it eleven wins out of the last twelve played thanks to a lone goal from Spencer Harris six minutes into the second half.
It was tough on Matlock who deserved a share of the spoils but the hosts were punished from one lapse, nobody picking up HARRIS who headed Alex Byrne’s free kick from the left past home goalkeeper Phil Barnes.
Shaw Lane will probably finish as champions, but they will make few friends along the way. Matlock fans, who had paid good money to watch what promised to be an exciting game, must have felt short changed by the visitors’ antics as fouls, play acting and time wasting were all part of the formula to ensure the three points. Add to that, they appeared to have an inexperienced referee in their pocket by constant chirping and complaining, despite four yellow cards coming their way.
A draw would have been a fair outcome with neither goalkeeper being stretched. Matlock failed to create anything of note but deserve credit for their passion and battling qualities. Shaw Lane made the most of their one chance and were then content to close the game out.
Rhys Sharpe was recalled in place of Luis Rose from the team which had won at Workington on Saturday for a game which saw former Gladiators Jon Kennedy and Paul Riley looking on from the sidelines.
Tyrell Waite drove fiercely but wildly off target in the 6th minute in a bright Matlock start, to be soon followed by a driven Ted Cribley centre which skidded along the six yard box.
It took 17 minutes for the Ducks to have a crack at goal, Harris shooting wide from the edge of the box when a corner was headed out. Nico Degirolamo was winning most of his battles against Notts County loanee Sam Osborne and he was equally effective in the centre as he cut out a David Norris volley at the expense of a corner.
But both defences dominated with there being no clear cut opportunities before half time.
A Sharpe cross narrowly eluded Michael Williams and Cribley’s mis-hit shot was yards wide. For Shaw Lane, full back Neil Austin lifter a shot from distance too high with Damian Reeves’ yellow card bringing the opening period to a close.
After the goal Matlock continued to work hard but lacked the invention to unlock the Ducks defence, their cause not being helped by constant stoppages in play.
Dwayne Wiley headed a free kick too high before a poorly timed challenge by Kelvin Lugsden on Cribley led to the second caution.
Frustration was starting to creep in both on and off the field as Matlock followers showed their displeasure with the visiting tactics.
Waite looked like finding Shaun Harrad until Lugsden intervened, Williams then heading too high from a Cribley centre.
Byrne cynically brought down Waite and was booked, goalkeeper John Stewart following him for timewasting and then feigning injury by falling dramatically to the floor. It really was unnecessary. Matlock fans were hoping for more punishment for Stewart from a free kick when the wall was no more than eight yards from taker Williams. But it was an anti-climax as Williams floated his shot a yard too high. The match appeared to have the inevitability of an unpopular Shaw Lane win.
Substitute Chub Chilika and Byrne had shots scrambled clear in a rare goalmouth incident and another substitute, Nicky Walker saw his diagonal drive deflected wide as the. expensively assembled Yorkshire side headed back up the M1 with three vital points but few admirers.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Nico Degirolamo 3 Jake Green (12 Luis Rose 71) 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Rhys Sharpe (15 Tyler Blake 75) 8 Michael Williams 9 Shaun Harrad 10 Tyrell Waite 11 Ted Cribley Other subs: 14 Niall Flint 16 Jayden Cotterill 17 Harry Wood
SHAW LANE: 1 John Stewart 2 Neil Austin 3 Ryan Serrant 4 David Norris 5 Kelvin Lugsden 6 Ryan Qualter 7 Alex Byrne (14 Kieran Lugsden 81) 8 Spencer Harris 9 Paul Clayton 10 Damian Reeves (12 Chib Chiluka 75) 11 Sam Osborne (16 Nicky Walker 64) Other subs: 15 Cameron Hough 17 Niah Payne
REFEREE: Wade Smith (Stockport) ATTENDANCE: 320 BEST GLADIATOR: Nico Degirolamo