ALTRINCHAM 3-0 MATLOCK TOWN
Matlock’s miserable record at Moss Lane continued as Altrincham consolidated top spot although a three gioal winning margin was somewhat harsh on the visitors.
The Gladiators had won one, drawn one and lost twelve of their previous visits to Alty and once Jordan Hulme had netted the first of his brace on 14 minutes, Matlock faced a tough task in seeing that record become even worse.
Their woes began even before kick off, Michael Williams pulling up with hamstring damage in the warm-up, so Ted Criobley was drafted in with Kieron Wallace moving into midfield and Rhys Sharpe slotting in at full back.
Sharpe was soon in the action being well placed to guide a Jake Moult cross out for a corner from which Matlock might have fell behind, Josh Hancock glancing his header wide when well placed.
Matlock though appeared to be settling down after that nervous start but HULME had them on the back foot when Max Hunt should probably have cut out a James Poole through ball and Hulme did the rest firing clinically past Phil Barnes.
Tom Hannigan’s excellent tackle on Jake Green foiled a Matlock response, his superb tackle stopping Green in his tracks as he prepared to fire goalwards. Dwayne Wiley then headed wide from a corner on the right won by Jamie Jackson’s pace, but soon afterwards Jackson had the best chance. Fed from a quickly taken free kick he was thwarted by a combination of defender and goalkeeper Tony Thompson and the chance had gone seemingly as quick as it was created.
AS the weather deteriorated, so did the standard of play as both sides struggled to create anything of note for the remainder of the half, save for John Johnston strike which Barnes saved comfortably.
Thick mist enveloped the arena to join the drizzle as the second half got under way and it became increasingly difficult to recognise players through the gloom.
Hunt ‘s header from a corner on the right fell wide before Altrincham replied Hulme striking an effort which bounced off Wiley for a 58th minute flag kick as Alty looked to double their advantage.They did so midway through the second period when following a cross from the right, HULME apparently back heeled the ball cheekily past Barnes and the points now appeared to be staying in the leafy Manchester suburb.
Barnes saved well from Hancock after good approach play from full back Shaun Densmore with Matlock struggling to create anything of substance at the other end.
To complete a frustrating afternoon, Alty added a third while the Gladiators were temporarily down to ten men. Joe Doyle-Charles, who had worked his socks off all afternoon, was off the pitch receiving attention after a clash in midfield when Altrinvham won a corner on the right which HANCOCK headed in from close range with two minutes left.
In short, Matlock had failed to replicate the form they showed before their enforced two and a half weeks weather enforced break and when visiting the league leaders, there can be no margin for error. Their effort and application could not be faulted, but they needed some extra spark which was missing on the day.
ALTRINCHAM : 1 Tony Thompson 2 Shaun Densmore 3 Connor Hampson 4 Tom Hannigan 5 Ben Harrison (15 James Jones 53)6 Jake Moult 7 John Johnston (16 Sean Miller 82) 8 Max Harrop (12 Simon Richman 56) 9 Jordan Hulme 10 James Poole 11 Josh Hancock Other subs: 14 Tom Peers 17 Lewis Short
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Adam Yates 3 Kieron Wallace 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Max Hunt (12 Micky Harcourt 62) 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Jake Green 12 Ted Cribley (15 Nico Degirolamo 85) 9 Shaun Harrad (16 Nathan Whitehead 75) 10 Jamie Jackson 11 Rhys Sharpe Other sub: 17 Jordan Pierrpont
REFEREE: Lewis Smith (Wigan) ATTENDANCE: 807 BEST GLADIATOR: Joe Doyle-Charles