Hednesford Town 2-0 Matlock Town
The Gladiators’ inconsistent season continued when two second half goals saw them slip to defeat at Keys Park on Tuesday night.
Edjidja Mbunga was on hand to finish off two set pieces to send Matlock home emptyhanded and ensure Hednesford jumped above them in the league table.
Matlock had edged a tight first half but after the interval Matlock were on the back foot as the Pitmen took the initiative, the Gladiators only threatening when they were two goals down and the game had slid away from them.
Shaun Harrad was not risked but Matlock still made one change to the starting line up which began the rout against Sutton Coldfield at the weekend. Adam Etches, who had impressed and scored as a substitute, was given a start as Tyrell Waite had to be content with a place on the bench.
Hednesford came into the clash on the back of an impressive 2-1 victory at Ashton United but did not look like building on that result in the opening exchanges.
Etches showed up well again early on with a strong break down the right which ended when his low cross was efficiently cut out by the stretching boot of James Mutton.
Then at the other end a mishit shot from Ben Bailey failed to trouble Phil Barnes before Matlock had a promising spell as a Dwayne Wiley effort from a left wing corner was hacked clear and Luis Rose pulled his shot wide after cutting in from the right. Significantly though, most of Matlock’s shots were from distance with Ted Cribley and Joe Doyle-Charles being off target.
Cribley though might have given Matlock a 24th minute lead when home goalkeeper James Wren misjudged a Rose cross and Cribley poked his shot agonisingly wide from only a couple of yards.
Hednesford responded as Mbunga fired goalwards but Barnes was on hand to keep the shot out.
But MBUNGA was smiling six minutes after the interval when a giant throw from Bailey was helped on by Danny Glover to fall sweetly for him to slam his shot into the roof of the net. This came shortly after Michael Williams could only manage a tame header from a Nico Degirolamo cross in Matlock’s opening attack of the second period.
The goal galvanised Hednesford and another long throw caused Matlock problems on the hour. Bailey again was the provider and when the ball was partially cleared, he met it with a scorching low left footer which Barnes turned aside.
Mbunga then got his angles all wrong with a terrible header wide from a James Lawrie cross two minutes later.
Matlock had made a double change swapping Tyler Blake and Etches for Rhys Sharpe and Waite. Cribley had a sniff of an opportunity as he latched on to a loose clearance to bear down on Wren who blocked the winger’s low drive.
It was a decent chance and one Matlock would rue not taking for they fell further behind in the 68th minute. Mutton headed down a right wing corner and MBUNGA turned the ball in from point blank range in the ensuing scramble.
Waite was unfortunate not to halve the visitors deficit when after combining with Williams, he curled a fine effort which beat Wren but rebounded to safety off a post.
Wren punched out a Cribley strike before in stoppage time Sharp broke through down the centre but produced an awful finish as he lifted a sliced shot unceremoniously over the bar.
That effort summed up a second half from Matlock which lacked both composure and quality, the long ball being all too prevalent which given the size of Hednesford’s three man central defence, was not the best move.
It’s been a stop start season so far, and consistency in performance needs to be found, sooner rather than later.
HEDNESFORD TOWN: 1 James Wren 2 Alex Melbourne 3 Tyler Weir (15 Richard Platt 86) 4 Ben Bailey 5 James Mutton 6 Sam Oji 7 Reece King 8 Tom Thorley 9 Danny Glover 10 Edjidja Mbunga 11 James Lawrie ( 14 Joe Fitzpztrick 61) Other subs: 12 Checkaine Steele 16 Jed Davies 17 Jose Veiga
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Nico Degirolamo 3 Jake Green (15 Nathan Whitehead 72) 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Luis Rose 8 Michael Williams 9 Nathan Blake (14 Rhys Sharpe 55) 10 Adam etches (12 Tyrell Waite 55) 11 Ted Cribley Other sub: 16 Niall Flint
REFEREE: Richard Eley (Derby) ATTENDANCE: 333 BEST GLADIATOR: Adam Yates