Atherton Collieries vs Matlock Town FC
Alder HouseNorthern Premier League
Matlock Town FC1
ATHERTON COLLERIES 0-1 MATLOCK TOWN
Midfield dynamo Alex Wiles struck the winner three minutes before half time to give the Gladiators three precious points and their first away points of the season.
The victory was well deserved but again Matlock needed to be more clinical in front of goal. The match should have been put to bed but while the score remained at one nil it gave Atherton hope of a point they seldom looked like getting.
Town boss Paul Phillips made three changes to his starting line up from the midweek home draw with Stalybridge Celtic. Jamie Sharman missed out with a hamstring tear to be replaced by Nico Degirolamo in defence, while Mark Lees and Jake Day were on the bench with Simon Njaria and Jorome Slew coming in. New signing Kallum Mantack was another substitute.
Kicking up the pronounced slope at the Skuna Stadium, Matlock made a bright start and home goalkeeper Nico Defreitas Hansen had to advance swiftly off his line to deny Slew inside the opening two minutes. Immediately afterwards Reece Kendall’s appeals for a spot kick were ignored by the referee, the Matlock number three claiming he had been pushed. Then it was Kendall again, heading an Alex Byrne cross too high before in the 10th minute Ryan Qualter diverted another corner wide at the back post.
Atherton fashioned their first chance in the 12th minute, Marcus Cusani breaking down the right, his cross being thundered over the bar by Aaron Smith. Cusani then curled his shot harmlessly wide.
Matlock had looked by far the sharper outfit in the opening exchanges before there followed a long period of midfield jousting with little goalmouth activity. However defender Luca Defreitas-Hansen had to be alert to stick out a crucial leg to keep out a cross from the busy Callum Chippendale.
Pollard easily collected a low shot from Scott Bakkor before the deadlock was broken thanks to persistence from WILES who refused to give up on a loose ball. Nico Defreitas-Hansen initially did well to push the ball away but the number eight followed in to force the ball towards goal, the ball creeping over the line in spite of Adam Rooney’s best attempts to clear.
The assistant flagged for the goal. Scrappy it might have been but equally vital and Matlock did not care.
Their lead could have been stretched in the early part of the second period. Chippendale and Slew combined to create an excellent opening and in hindsight Slew should have shot rather than delay, Byrne collecting the ball on the right, his cross eventually bouncing harmlessly beyond the back post .
Then Kendall rose to head Byrne’s cross back across goal but no-one in a yellow shirt was there to finish off.
But the best chance fell to Slew who after being released by Kendall saw his powerful blast superbly kept out by Defreitas-Hansen.
The hosts responded with a Cusani strike being blocked but despite a flurry of pressure towards the end, there was only a swerving twenty five yarder from Smith which caused Pollard any issues, the goalkeeper confidently knocking the ball aside.
Byrne’s audacious fifty yards volley was not far wide as the home goalkeeper was caught hopelessly off his line and after Defreitas-Hansen’s poor throw out was collected by Byrne, substitute Day could not connect with the centre and another chance went begging.
Late on Mantack might have marked his debut with a goal, breaking clear only to gently prod the ball at Defreitas-Hansen when he should really have made the points safe.
Thankfully this time Matlock’s poor finishing was not costly as they avenged the league double Atherton achieved against the Gladiators last season.
ATHERTON COLLERIES: 1 Nico Defreitas-Hansen 2 Ollie Brown (16 Luke Nicholls 89) 3 Joel Amado 4 Adam Rooney (15 Finlay Lockett 76) 5 Dan Lafferty 6 Luca Defreitas-Hansen 7 Oli Roberts (12 Jay Fitzmartin 64) 8 Jack Lenehan 9 Scott Bakkor 10 Aaron Smith 11 Marcus Cusani Subs not used: 14 Aaron Pettifer 17 Evan Cunningham
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jim Pollard 2 Nico Degirolamo 3 Reece Kendall 4 Ioan Evans 5 Ryan Qualter 6 Simon Njaria 7 Al Byrne 8 Alex Wiles (16 Kallum Mantack 89) 9 Jorome Slew (12 Jake Day 73) 10 Callum Chippendale 11 Jordan Barnett (14 Mark Lees 84) Other subs: 14 Sean Higgins 17 Adam Blakeley
REFEREE: Zharir Mustafa (Birkenhead) ATTENDANCE: 246 BEST GLADIATOR: Alex Wiles