MATLOCK TOWN 3-2 GRANTHAM TOWN
An exciting Integro Cup tie went Matlock’s way thanks to Dwayne Wiley’s 82nd minute decider after the hosts had earlier gone in front and then fallen behind.
A Michael Williams penalty was cancelled out by Jordan Hempenstall to leave the score level at the half way mark. Jack McMenemy put the Gingerbreads ahead eight minutes into the second period before skipper Adam Yates levelled midway through the half. Both sides had other chances with most of them falling to Matlock, what a pity only 132 hardy souls braved the chilly weather to witness a good home performance.
Both sides had key players missing, the Gladiators starting line up lacking Phil Barnes, Ted Cribley and Shaun Harrad. Leading scorer Lee Shaw was an unused substitute for the Gingerbreads, who also were without winger Luke Shaw. Jordan Pierrpont replaced Barnes while there was a full debut for 16 years old Zak Brunt on the left with Ricky German and Noel Burdett being the central striking partnership.
A bright opening from both sides saw Matlock force two early corners and German fire straight at goalkeeper Kieran Preston while Pierrpont was quickly off his line to block superbly from Kevin Bastos.
Jake Green and Williams were both having magnificent games being at the heart of many of the best home attacks, Green feeding German whose strike was blocked by Preston before a surging run by Williams which saw him speed around the Grantham penalty box was ended by Tom Potts’ foul challenge, WILLIAMS picking himself up to fire in the 18th minute spot kick.
With Matlock dominating, Preston prevented Williams from adding a second goal before Green linked neatly with Micky Harcourt whose fiercely struck low drive was blocked by Preston’s legs.
It was a shock then when the visitors drew level on 26 minutes, Matlock losing concentration from their own throw near the home dug-out and the ball was knocked through to HEMPENSTALL who fired low through Pierrpont’s legs.
Pierrpont, fairly though, then flattened Tom Batchelor as he came out to claim a 32nd minute free kick, the Grantham defender having to be helped off. Hempentall’s bicycle kick after he held off Yates dropped narrowly wide as the visitors looked to gain control.
Brunt showed what an exciting talent he is with a pin point pass to German who turned smartly to curl a fine effort narrowly over the bar at the start of the second period. Burdett cut inside to see Preston hold his low shot but out of the blue Grantham went in front, McMENEMY firing a low twenty yarder past Pierrpont.
But Matlock reacted with gusto showing a willingness to battle and they levelled when Brunt hoisted a great corner to the far post where YATES rose majestically to head back across goal and into the opposite corner.
A Williams free kick dipped on to the top of the net before the midfield dynamo was denied by an excellent and crucial Rhys Lewis challenge eight yards from goal.
Matlock continued to bang at the door as Brunt was narrowly too high, and substitute Harrad twice directed shots at Preston, but the deserved winner came when following a Stefan Galinski foul on Yates, Williams floated in the free kick and WILEY beat the sleeping Grantham defence to nod past Preston.
Sound game management from Matlock meant that Grantham, despite an added four minutes of playing time, seldom looked like finding an equaliser to take the tie to a penalty shoot out.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jordan Pierrpont 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Kieran Wallace 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Jake Green 8 Michael Williams 9 Ricky German 10 Noel Burdett (12 Shaun Harrad 54) 11 Zak Brunt Other subs: 14 Nathan Whitehead 15 Nico Degirolamo 16 Rhys Sharpe 17 Alfie Smith-Eccles
GRANTHAM TOWN: 1 Kieran Preston 2 Tom Potts 3 Ryley Thompson 4 Tom Batchelor (15 Rhys Lewis 32) 5 Stefan Galinski 6 Michael Hollingsworth (14 Andy Wright 46) 7 Kevin Bastos 8 Tom Curtis 9 Jordan Hempenstall 10 Jack McMenemy 11 Curtis Burrows (12 Brett Callow 77) Other subs: 16 Danny Meadows 17 Lee Shaw
REFEREE: Ed Pidduck (Beeston) ATTENDANCE: 132 BEST GLADIATOR: Jake Green