MATLOCK TOWN 2-0 HALESOWEN TOWN
Two quick goals shortly before the interval from Michael Williams and Jake Green saw Matlock ease to a comfortable home win over struggling Halesowen.
It was a deserved lead for the Gladiators at the interval for Halesowen scarcely had a shot at Town goalkeeper Phil Barnes during the opening period with most of the action being concentrated in the visitors half. But after a bright start Matlock struggled to find a breakthrough until those two late strikes.
The Gladiators were able to recall Micky Harcourt and Kieron Wallace with Nico Degirolamo and Rhys Sharpe having to be content with places on the substitutes bench having played in the 3-3 draw at Witton Albion seven days earlier. The bench also contained 16 years old Zak Brunt, who came on and put in a promising display, and Academy goalkeeper Alfie Smith-Wccles.
Halesowen custodian Daniel Platt was soon in action, diving at Joe Doyle-Charles’ feet after a neat flick from Shaun Harrad. Then on 6 minutes a promising move came to a disappointing end when Noel Burdett cut in from the left but could only fire tamely at Platt.
The Yeltz fought their way into the contest as the clear Matlock chances dried up. A long range Green strike and an effort from Burdett were both harmlessly off target before Williams tried his luck from twenty five yards and suffered a similar fate.
Platt was then extended for just the second time of the half as he saved a shot from Burdett and Platt was called into action again to keep out a Williams shot after good work by Ted Cribley on the left.
But the duo combined as Matlock went in front on 40 minutes, Cribley taking over from Kieron Wallace on the left to float a delightful ball towards the far post and WILLIAMS ghosted in to nod home from close range.
Then Cribley had a part too play in Matlock doubling their lead on 42 minutes, he again found space on the left. His cross was cut out by Marcus Poscha who then delayed his clearance, being robbed by Harrad who unselfishly set up GREEN to slide a low shot just inside Platt’s right hand post.
Matlock maintained their dominance into the second half and on 57 minutes came a potentially controversial moment when Harrad was tripped by John McAtee. Referee Aaron Bannister pointed straight to the spot but assistant Mick Connell intervened advising the offence had been outside the box. A free kick was duly awarded, Wallace’s low shot being pushed aside by Platt, but video evidence examined afterwards proved that Mr Bannister’s original decision was correct.
That escape gave Halesowen a touch more belief and they finally tested Barnes as wing back Enoch Ekongu broke forward and Barnes was more than equal to the Yeltz man’s shot with a fine block.
But that was a rare moment of danger for the hosts who might have made it three when Burdett intelligently set up substitute Ricky German whose low shot was knocked aside by Platt.Then a timely interception from Kyle Morrison on Harrad prevented what looked to be a certain goal after the top scorer had combined neatly with Burdett.
German and Harrad both ran out of space as they looked to finish off a low ball from Wallace while German broke away on the left and curled a low shot narrowly wide.
Ekongu looked to be the visitors’ sole threat, Barnes beating away a low shot near the end, but despite not being at their best, Matlock had too much for the visitors and a two goal winning margin was the least they deserved from a match that never got going in terms of being a spectacle.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Kieron Wallace 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Jake Green 8 Michael Williams 9 Shaun Harrad 10 Noel Burdett ( 16 Zak Brunt 77) 11 Ted Cribley (15 Ricky German 46) Other subs: 12 Nico Degirolamo 14 Rhys Sharpe 17 Alfie Smith-Eccles
HALESOWEN TOWN: 1 Daniel Platt 2 Enoch Ekongu 3 Kyle Morrison 4 Jordan Goddard 5 Marcus Poscha 6 Bradley Lewis 7 Ivor Lawton (14 Alexander Woodhouse 12) 8 Daniel Bragoli 9 Daniel Udoh 10 John McAtee (12 Ethan Jones 61) 11 Cameron Steele (15 Glen Hayes 78) Other sub: 16 Thomas Parsons
REFEREE: A Bannister (Pontefract) ATTENDANCE: 342 BEST GLADIATOR: Michael Williams