ASHTON UNITED 3-0 MATLOCK TOWN
Matlock had the lion’s share of the attacking play at Hurst Cross on Tuesday night but Ashton defended better and punished errors from the visitors to record what was a somewhat flattering three goal victory.
The result completed a miserable four days for Matlock who were looking to bounce back from their FA Trophy exit a few miles up the road at Glossop last Saturday.
Matlock had to include Micky Harcourt, Kieron Wallace and Shaun Harrad who were all not at full fitness through injury and illness and they gave a full debut to striker Noel Burdett who replaced Waite who was attending a family funeral.
The opening minutes suggested it could be a good night for Matlock who sprayed passes around with confidence and had the Robins on the back foot. Home goalkeeper Dave Carnell retreated to hold a cross shot from Michael Williams before in virtually their first attack, Ashton went in front on 8 minutes.
It was a controversial penalty decision that knocked Matlock back, a clever pass from Matthew Chadwick releasing Liam Thomsett who went down under Phil Barnes’ challenge with the goalkeeper insisting no contact was made. But referee Jon Kenny pointed to the spot and CHADWICK converted to puncture the Gladiators bright opening.
Buoyed by the early goal Ashton threatened again soon afterwards as Chadwick’s shot fell to Danny Pilkington who pushed his shot wide. But there was a positive response from Matlock as captain Dwayne Wiley broke with pace and vigour to see a powerful strike cannon against an Ashton defender before Ted Cribley made inroads from the left only to see Carnell fingertip his goalbound shot over the bar.
Burdett was especially lively with some pacy darting runs, one of which brought a foul and a Rhys Sharpe free kick being deflected over the bar. Sharpe’s near post corner bounced conveniently for Carnell to drop on the ball.
The Gladiators were particularly unfortunate not to equalise in the 20th minute as Harrad’s header from a Sharpe cross forced Carnell into a fine save, pushing the ball against his right hand post.
Ashton, dangerous on the break, worried Matlock on the half hour, Will Beesley’s cross from the left finding Mason Fawns who forced Barnes into a good blocking save.
Sharpe was causing problems from the right, another excellent centre being scrambled clear by a resolute home defence and then fine invention from Williams nearly caught out Carnell, the Gladiators number eight’s long range effort from the right narrowly missing the far post.
But disaster struck for Wiley and Matlock just seconds before the break. In trying to play his way out of trouble, Wiley only managed to set up JACK DYCHE who helped the ball over Barnes and into the net to put Ashton further ahead.
Matlock did not deserve to be two goals adrift, but needed a swift response. Cribley threatened to provide it, cutting in from the left to curl a daisycutter narrowly wide but when a third goal, and again another soft one, was conceded on 52 minutes, the visitors’ task looked hopeless.
Harcourt had put in an inviting cross from the right which was cleared, but with a hip injury slowing him down, he was unable to resume his defensive duties and Pilkington’s through ball found TOMSETT who calmly slotted his finish past Barnes.
Harcourt limped off to be replaced by Joe Doyle-Charles who would later join Wiley in the book meaning Doyle-Charles will miss Matlock’s next game through suspension.To their credit though, Matlock continued to battle with Carnell holding a Williams strike and both Burdett and Cribley firing narrowly wide.
Harrad was withdrawn to save any further damage to his ankle and Matlock then had to take off Cribley with a recurrence of his back trouble.
Wiley had a shot and header charged down by the packed home defence who on the night defended efficiently to prevent any chance of a fightback from a Matlock side whose commitment could not be faulted. But Ashton made the better decisions at the business ends of the field to take the points.
ASHTON UNITED: 1 Dave Carnell 2 Dominic Smakkey (16 Alha Kaba 71) 3 Will Beesley 4 Tom Eckersley 5 Aaron Chalmers 6 Mark Lees 7 Mason Fawns 8 Liam Tomsett 9 Matthew Chadwick (14 Nic Evangelinos 64) 10 Jack Dyche 11 Danny Pilkington (12 John Roberts 59) Other sub: 15 Simon Woodford
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Micky Harcourt (12 Joe Doyle-Charles 54) 3 Jake Green 4 Kieron Wallace 5 Nico Degirolamo 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Rhys Sharpe 8 Michael Williams 9 Shaun Harrad ( 14 Nathan Whitehead 64) 10 Noel Burdett 11 Ted Cribley (15 Callum LLoyd 79) Other subs: 16 Ethan Knowles 17 Jordan Pierrpont
REFEREE: Jon Kenny (Lancashire) ATTENDANCE: 133 BEST GLADIATOR: Michael Williams