Grantham Town vs Matlock Town FC
South Kesteven Sports StadiumNorthern Premier League
Matlock Town FC3
Grantham Town 1-3 Matlock Town
Matlock returned home from The Meres with the three points most punters expected, but again, they made hard work of it.
Their failure to convert excellent chances nearly bit them on the backside as the Gingerbreads fought gamely in search of a point in the closing stages before being undone by a classic breakaway goal in stoppage time. By this time Matlock were down to ten men with Ross Hannah having been dismissed for an alleged elbow on Finlay Shrimpton.
A Shrimpton own goal on 5 minutes had put Matlock in front, that lead eventually being doubled on 38 minutes by Alex Byrne.
Thierry Latty-Fairweather’s fierce strike halved the deficit on 63 minutes before Byrne’s second of the contest at long last killed off Grantham.
League leaders Matlock made two changes from the side which started the 2-1 defeat at Atherton on the previous weekend. Callum Chippendale and Jesurun Uchebgulam came in with the injured Adam Yates missing out altogether and loanee Matt Sargent having to be content with a place on the substitutes’ bench. Grantham included former Gladiator James Williamson in defence with another former Gladiator, Michael Williams on the bench.
Matlock started brightly winning two very early corners before Byrne cut in from the right to present himself with a fine chance which he fired directly at goalkeeper James Pollard.
Shaun Rowley was nearly embarrassed shortly afterwards as a cross from the left from Nathan Modest bounced against the far post but Matlock drew first blood when Byrne cleverly found space on the right, his low cross shot hitting SHRIMPTON to find the net.
Seconds later Matlock ought to have scored again as Jamie Cooke clean through allowed Pollard to smother his shot when he had the option also of rounding the Grantham custodian. Cooke tried again from twenty yards seconds later but again Pollard saved well as Matlkock were swarming all over Grantham.
Byrne and Chippendale were comfortably off target but an element of sloppiness was coming into Matlock’s play. Ryan Qualter blocked a strike from Lee Shaw before Shrimpton struck the top of the bar from twelve yards following indecision from Rowley after a cross from the left.
But Matlock doubled their advantage when Liam Hughes astutely fed BYRNE who had slipped his marker to convert from close range.
Cooke’s shot flashed past an upright by the narrowest of margins before the half ended with Shrimpton blasting narrowly wide from distance. Matlock though should have been well out of Grantham;s sight at the interval.
More chances came and went for Matlock at the start of the new half, Shane Clark was booked for scything down Reece Kendall, Byrne’s curling shot dropping inches wide. Then Byrne had another shot deflected wide before Kendall hooked narrowly too high. Hughes drove fiercely but again a yard wide and from a Cooke assist, Byrne’s low curler was kept out down to his left by Pollard.
Relieved to still be in contention, Grantham found some belief with Kendall doing well to knock away a strike from Jacob Wright at the expense of a corner.
But Grantham found a reply from an unexpected source. Matlock failed to react to a quickly taken free kick and LATTY- FAIRWEATHER surged forward to smash a rising shot past Rowley from the edge of the box.
It was now game on in a game that should have been decided long ago.
Ali Aydemir had a shot blocked and scrambled clear before Latty-Fairweather went down in the box only to be booked for simulation. Hughes was high and wide from a tight angle and Uchebgulam drove off target.
Kendall’s foul brought about a booking and a chance for the Gingerbreads, the free kick being knocked down to Shaw whose shot was smartly turned aside by Rowley who seconds later denied Shaw again, superbly pushing away a goalbound low shot to safety.
Now Matlock were hanging on , Hannah’s harsh red card not helping the cause but deep into time added on, Kendall’s clearing header found Uchebgulam who ran sixty yards before calmly crossing for BYRNE to slot home.
Matlock could and should have made life far easier for themselves. They know they have to improve their all round performance in Saturday’s crunch home meeting with South Shields.
GRANTHAM TOWN: 1 James Pollard 2 James Williamson 3 Thierry Latty-Fairweather 4 Shane Clarke 5 Henry Eze 6 Finley Shrimpton 7 Ali Aydemir 8 Harvey Grice (12 Mason Lee 90) 9 Nathan Modest 10 Lee Shaw 11 Jacob Wright (17 Joe Parkin 83) Other subs: 14 Manesse Kianga 15 Siru Tuntulwana 16 Michael Williams
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Shaun Rowley 2 Callum Chippendale 3 Reece Kendall 4 Ioan Evans 5 Ryan Qualter 6 Mark Lees 7 Alex Byrne 8 Alex Wiles (14 Matthew Sargent (15 Liam King) 9 Liam Hughes 10 Jamie Cooke (12 Ross Hannah 60) 11 Jesurun Uchebgulam Other subs: 16 Craig King 17 Tyreese Onyeka
REFEREE: Martin Fryer (Nottingham) ATTENDANCE: 221 BEST GLADIATOR: Alex Byrne