Grantham Town vs Matlock Town FC
South Kesteven Sports Stadium
Matlock Town FCA
Grantham Town 1-2 Matlock Town (abandoned after 61 minutes)
The Gladiators’ luck was right out at the Meres on Saturday as dense fog caused the abandonment of their BetVictor NPL Premier Division fixture when they were deservedly leading and looking like finding the victory they very much needed after some indifferent league results.
They had recovered from going a goal behind on 17 minutes, Kieran Wells netting on his Grantham debut, to lead thanks to two excellent strikes from winger Piteu Crouz.
But when half time arrived and the hosts having been reduced to ten men with the dismissal of midfielder Charlie Ward, the conditions had considerably worsened and although referee Ben Cooke allowed play to continue, it became almost impossible to decipher who did what from the sidelines.
Crouz kept his place in the starting line up after impressing in the Integro Cup win at Belper in midweek.
There was a first league start for striker Chib Chilaka with Luke Hinsley dropping to the bench. Matlock made a bright start but their opening two attempts failed to trouble home goalkeeper Adnan Kanuric, Luke Dean’s shot dropping wide before a Dwayne Wiley surge forwards ended with a shot which flew yards over the bar.
As Grantham countered Dan Wallis was out quickly to grab the ball off Remaye Campbell’s toes and then again to block from the same player but Matlock were looking the more accomplished side.
It came as a blow to them when WELLS got in behind their defence to lift a neat finish over the onrushing Wallis to give the Gingerbreads a 17th minute lead.
But Matlock responded in the best possible fashion, having turned the game around by the 28th minute.
Making excellent use of wingers Tomas Poole and Crouz, they began to dominate, a Poole cross flashing across the six yard box, while home full back Isaac Currie often found Crouz too hot to handle. After Bailey Gooda’s effort had been blocked, Matlock drew level on 25 minutes, CROUZ cutting inside from the left to fire a shot towards the back post which Kanuric could only help into the net.
Soon the Cameroonian was celebrating again, Ward having been cautioned for a foul on Poole a couple of yards outside the penalty box, was made to pay even more dearly as CROUZ curled home a delightful free kick.
Ward then saw red for another late challenge three minutes before the interval which came after Matlock went close to a third. Chilaka, leading the line superbly, held off his marker to fire narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
With the fog now enveloping the Meres, the second half started, players looking like shadows, it was a case of spot the ball for spectators and reporters.
Wells had the ball in the net for Grantham but the effort was disallowed, apparently for a foul and Crouz was booked for a late challenge but on whom was unclear. Assistant Harley McKitterick flagged to the referee as the fog increased further, and after a brief discussion, the game was abandoned.
Matlock boss Steve Kittrick, although disappointed, agreed with the decision. “It’s very frustrating but I think it’s the right decision and the ref told us all he could see was silhouettes not players and numbers so I think it was right for safety reasons.”
He was also pleased with the Gladiators’ performance. “Even when we went behind I was confident we’d get back into it. We played really well in the first half and were unlucky to be a goal down but we played some great football, Piteu Crouz got his two goals and we were confident we’d go on and win it. We need to take this performance on into our game at FC United next week.”
GRANTHAM TOWN: 1 Adnan Kanuric 2 Isaac Currie 3 Connor Bartle 4 Rob Atkinson 5 Brad McGowan 6 Charlie Ward 7 James Berrett 8 Declan Dunn 9 Kieran Wells 10 Craig Westcarr 11 Remaye Campbell Subs: 12 Michael Tweed 14 Adam Smith 15 Francois Zoko 16 Rodrigo Goncalves 17 Jack Broadhead
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Dan Wallis 2 Adam Yates 3 Ben Gordon 4 Luke Dean 5 Bailey Gooda 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Tomas Poole 8 Spencer Harris 9 Chib Chilaka 10 Marcus Marshall 11 Piteu Crouz Subs: 12 Luke Hinsley 14 Jordan Sinnott 15 James Tague 16 Dan Bramall 17 Ben Morris
REFEREE: Ben Cooke (Atherstone) BEST GLADIATOR: Piteu Crouz