SHAW LANE 2-1 MATLOCK TOWN
Dave Hoole’s first game in permanent command ended in a controversial defeat with the Ducks’ winner coming in the astonishing eighth minute of time added on at the end.
Kieran Wallace put Matlock in front midway through the second half only for Ducks’ skipper Spencer Harris to head in twice, firstly on 86 minutes to rob Matlock. Harris, incidentally was the scorer at Matlock earlier in the season when Shaw Lane were 1-0 winners.
Shaw Lane needed a win from this final game of the Evo-Stik NPL campaign to have a chance of making the play-offs but wins for rivals Grantham Town and Farsley Celtic scuppered these hopes and in truth a place in the top five would not have been warranted on the evidence of this match.
Matlock outplayed them for long periods. A sharp contrast in styles was evident with Matlock’s smooth and silky passing often opening up the home back line while Shaw Lane relied on brute force and a largely route one approach, plus some “professionalism” in always being in and around the referee to influence his decision making.
Unfortunately the referee fell for it, and how he found nine minutes of stoppage time is a mystery. The trainer was on only once, six substitutions at thirty seconds per substitute adds up to three minutes, so from somewhere five extra unaccountable minutes were found.
The Gladiators made two changes from the side narrowly beaten at home by Ashton United in midweek, Zak Brunt coming in for Harry Wood and Ricky German replaced Jamie Jackson up front.
Brunt, yet to take his GCSE’s, had an excellent game, constantly being a danger on the right and supporting claims that he will definitely be a star of the future.
Matlock though should probably have made more of their first half opportunities.
Harry Limb whose pace was an ever present threat, did well to bring down a cross from Jake Phillips but volleyed wide on 12 minutes. Inside a further minute Brunt latched on to a faulty clearance from goalkeeper Eddie Wilczynski to feed German whose low shot was deflected off the line by Kelvin Lugsden.
Jake Green would then go close in the 29th minute, firing narrowly wide of the far post after German left a Phillips cross from the right and when Wilczynski flapped at another Phillips cross just two minutes later, the goalkeeper recovered sufficiently to block German’s effort.
Apart from a speculative forty yarder from Alex Byrne caught by the backpedalling Richard Walton, it was all Matlock.
Limb’s low cross bound for German was desperately cut out by Gavin Skelton and on 32 minutes Limb thought he would definitely score but Wilczynski produced a terrific block save to keep out Limb’s powerful ten yard strike. A Dwayne Wiley header looped over to bring the first half to an end, Matlock could easily have been three goals in front.
Shaw Lane increased the tempo in the second half and within two minutes Walton tipped away a teasing centre from danger man Byrne from which Skelton headed off target.
But at the other end Matlock created another chancer when Ted Cribley weaved in from the right for his shot to be blocked at the near post. Then Wilczynski pulled off a cracking save when Cribley found Limb to fire powerfully goalwards. It seemed as if it would not be Matlock’s day.
But on 64 minutes Matlock found the breakthrough when Skelton and Wilczynski got in a terrible muddle and KIERAN WALLACE slotted comfortably into a vacant net from the edge of the penalty box to give the Gladiators a deserved lead.
Shaw Lane had to go for the jugular now, using all three of their substitutes but initially Matlock coped comfortably with the hosts attacks.
There was a flurry of activity at the Matlock end with ten minutes to go, Ben Gordon’s shot being deflected wide and then Cribley clearing over his own bar before a third corner was headed wide by Spencer Harris.
But on 86 minutes HARRIS would fare better, rising to head a Kieran Lugsden centre from the right past the diving Walton.
Soon afterwards former Alfreton striker Paul Clayton headed wide at the far post from another Byrne centre.
It looked as if honours would finish even but the Ducks won a corner on the right taken again by Byrne and HARRIS was there again to head home and give Shaw Lane three undeserved but in the end meaningless points.
Matlock finished in fifteenth place, Shaw lane in sixth but any neutral would have thought it was Matlock vying for a play off position on a cold day in Dickie Bird territory. A poor crowd of 219 was made up of over fifty per cent supporting the Gladiators.
SHAW LANE: 1 Eddie Wilczynski 2 Jake Picton 3 Ben Gordon 4 Kelvin Lugsden 5 Jake Skelton ( 12 Paul Clayton 67) 6 David Norris 7 Alex Byrne 8 Spencer Harris 9 Keiran Lugsden 10 Damien Reeves (14 Chib Chilaka 60) 11 Godwin Abadaki (15 Gavin Rothery 60) Other subs: 16 Matty Davies 17 Ryan Serrant
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Richard Walton 2 Jake Phillips 3 Jake Green 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Zak Brunt (17 Jamie Jackson 58) 8 Kieran Wallace 9 Ricky German (16 Chris Ondong-Mba 72) 10 Ted Cribley (12 Harry Wood 90) 11 Harry Limb Other subs: 14 Amos Kabeya 15 Billy Whitehead
REFEREE: Nik Storey (Manchester) ATTENDANCE: 219 BEST GLADIATOR: Jake Phillips