Matlock Town FC vs Bamber Bridge
Matlock Town FC1
The Proctor Cars StadiumNorthern Premier League
MATLOCK TOWN 1-0 BAMBER BRIDGE
An Alex Byrne penalty after half an hour secured the three vital points against a Bamber Bridge side already assured of their place in the end of season promotion knock-out, and it kept Matlock’s hopes of joining the party going until the final day.
Byrne himself won the spot kick after he had gone down under the challenge of Joe Robbins and Barnsley official Ashley Royston had no hesitation in blowing for a penalty which was calmly despatched by the popular number seven, sending Brig custodian James Pradic the wrong way.
Matlock had dominated the first half and should have led by more at half time and then it was a familiar story of coping with pressure after the interval which again the Gladiators did with the odd scare along the way.
Ioan Evans was recalled to the defence and partnered Dan Bradley with Adam Yates named as a substitute. Saul Milovanovic was the man to stand down from the team which had drawn at Belper on Easter Monday.
The first shot at goal was an unspectacular one to say the least, a 2nd minute Paul Dawson free kick for Bamber was still rising as it reached the cricket square.
The game was being punctuated by a series of free kicks in the opening stages, one of which was a Byrne strike which was blocked and his follow up strike deflected away for an 11th minute corner.
Alex Duhameau made ground on the left for his cross to be nodded clear by Chris Churchman and when Reece Styche played a teasing cross into the six yard area both Byrne and Johnston were an ace away from converting.
Matlock kept knocking on the door, another cross from Styche this time being cut out before the lock turned with the penalty which was just what Matlock needed.
Three minutes after the goal Byrne was again in the thick of the action curling narrowly high and wide before a Styche centre took a fortunate deflection from the visitors viewpoint and was collected by Pradic.
But there was a golden chance to double the lead on 39 minutes as Styche robbed goalkeeper Pradic but Karl Demidh lifted his shot over an inviting goal and the opportunity to further settle nerves on the pitch and on the terraces had passed Matlock by.
The missed opportunities didn’t end there with Styche failing to make contact on the edge of the box with the net again pleading to be bulged.
Bamber, third in the table before kick off, were aware that second placed Warrington Town were behind at South Shields so they made a couple of positive changes including bringing on the extremely talented Finlay Sinclair-Smith who had surprisingly not made the starting line up.
But before they had chance to acclimatise themselves, they should have been further behind as a faulty pass from McAulay Wilson gave Matlock another chance which Duhameau and Styche between them could not put away. Johnston then shot narrowly wide and there was a nagging feeling that these missed opportunities might bite Matlock later in the contest.
Brig looked a different outfit from the first half with Connor Stanley chipping towards the far post and a stretching Donavan Lescott could not quite finish off.
But they came within a lick of paint of a 61st minute leveller as Wilson struck the bar from twenty five yards, the gods being on the Gladiators side as the ball was cleared to safety.
Evans made a fine block from a Dawson strike as Matlock bravely defended their advantage and they broke for Styche to extend Pradic who did well to keep out the Gibralta international’s strike. Evans was too high after a mini scramble in the Brig box and after Byrne’s free kick was gathered by Pradic, Sharman headed narrowly too high after Pradic had again denied Byrne from a trademark free kick.
Brig had the ball in the net through Dawson but Deeney had clearly been fouled as he came for a free kick and both Dawson and Evans required lengthy treatment, with Evans emerging with a Terry Butcher style head bandage to warrior on.
Bradley blocked a Dawson shot as again the Gladiators defended impeccably to win the game and keep their play-off hopes alive. Nothing less than a win at Marine in the final league fixture will be needed and then they will hope that Radcliffe and Hyde both drop points. It will be a fascinating final day.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Saul Deeney 2 Jamie Sharman 3 Robbie McNichoalas 4 Alex Duhameau 5 Ioan Evans 6 Dan Bradley 7 Alex Byrne 8 Ethan Cartwright (14 Brad Abbott 65) 9 Reece styche (12 Brad Wells 90) 10 Karl Demidh (16 Harry Wakefield 90) 11 John Johnston Other subs: 15 Adam Yates 17 Jim Pollard
BAMBER BRIDGE: 1 James Pradic 2 Joe Robbins (12 Finlay Sinclair-Smith 46) 3 Luke Marietie 4 Aaron Skinner 5 Matthew Thomson 6 Connor Stanley (15 Ryan Roache 740 7 Paul Dawson 8 Chris Churchman 9 Finlay Cross-Adair (16 Donovan Lescott 46) 10 McAulay Wilson 11 Isaac Sinclair Other subs: 14 Danny Forbes 17 Sky Sinclair
REFEREE: Ashley Royston (Barnsley) ATTENDANCE: 954 BEST GLADIATOR: Alex Byrne