Matlock Town FC vs Grantham Town
Matlock Town FC2
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MATLOCK TOWN 2-2 GRANTHAM TOWN
Matlock remains as the division’s only unbeaten team but it was by the skin of their teeth thanks to a magnificent fightback from two goals down.
Chib Chilaka on his Grantham debut, and Ryan Hall had put Grantham in a seemingly unassailable position, but an own goal from James Berrett with four minutes left gave the Gladiators hope. Then four minutes into stoppage time, substitute Luke Hinsley grabbed the dramatic and vital equaliser.
So Steve Kittrick’s troops stay top when it seemed as if it wouldn’t be their night after earlier striking the woodwork no fewer than three times.
Hinsley was a surprise inclusion in the squad after missing the previous three matches through family commitments. Kittrick also recalled Luke Dean and Jack Rae to the midfield while Piteu Crouz started in place of Scott Smith. Andrew Wright was also back in the starting line up to face his old club while former Gladiators Jack Broadhead and Jake Green began for the Gingerbreads who also had Craig Westcarr, Matlock’s top scorer last season, on the bench.
In a tight opening with Grantham fired up in a bid to atone for a 4-0 home hammering by Whitby on Saturday, Hall drove wide from 18 yards in the 5th minute before Matlock were left cursing their luck for the first time four minutes later.
A well-worked corner from the right found its way to Dean whose low shot beat goalkeeper Tom Nicholson and rebounded off the foot of the post. Crouz following up saw his goalbound effort booted off the line.
Grantham though were robust and knocking the hosts out of their stride and they became the first team to score from open play against Matlock this season. It was the scruffiest of goals, CHILAKA managing to force a right-wing corner over the line as Jon Stewart failed to gather effectively.
Grantham continued to close Matlock down effectively, winning a lot of second balls and having a dangerous outlet in pacy Hall out on the right flank who caused Ben Gordon more problems than he had experienced so far this season.
But clear cut chances were scarce until the 42nd minute when Chilaka was in behind the Matlock rearguard after lax defensive play, his low ball finding James Baxendale whose half hit shot was cleared by Dwayne Wiley.
Matlock then came close as a head in black and white stripes knocked the ball inadvertently goalwards before Broadhead cleared off the line.
After the break Marshall was inches away from converting a low free-kick across the box, but Grantham stunned the home crowd by doubling their lead in the 55th minute, HALL sprinting beyond Gordon and an open and trailing home defence to slot confidently past Stewart.
Referee Davis was struggling to maintain control and six yellow cards were brandished as the half became more and more fractious as it wore on. Marshall, Spencer Harris and James Williamson were booked for Matlock while Grantham’s crime merchants were Berrett, Michael Tweed and Tom Ward.
Tweed’s was for timewasting which had been constant from Grantham and it cost them dearly in the end.
But before the late drama, a Crouz free-kick rebounded off the bar before another was desperately tipped over by Nicholson. Dan Bramall, on his 21st birthday, had a useful effort charged down before a Wiley header came back off an upright with Nicholson well beaten.
The tide turned though as Marshall broke down the left and his shot took a clear and decisive deflection off BERRETT for Matlock’s third successive own goal scored on home turf.
With most of the 372 crowd urging them on, they ought to have equalised with a minute left as Marshall latched on to a Hinsley flick but he overran the ball allowing Nicholson to smother.
But when Tweed fouled Bramall out on the left, he escaped what should have been a second caution. Grantham though was not as lucky as Sinnott swung in a teasing ball which HINSLEY glanced in to signal pandemonium on the pitch. Off it the roar might have been heard for miles in equal amounts of joy and relief.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Stewart 2 Josh Lacey 3 Ben Gordon 4 Luke Dean (14 Spencer Harris 65) 5 James Williamson 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Piteu Crouz (15 Jordan Sinnott 78) 8 Jack Rea 9 Marcus Marshall 10 Andrew Wright (17 Luke Hinsley 65) 11 Dan Bramall. Other subs: 12 Adam Yates 16 Scott Smith
GRANTHAM TOWN: 1 Tom Nicholson 2 Michael Tweed 3 A J Adelekan ( 14 Jack McGovern 75) 4 Jack Broadhead 5 Tom Ward 6 Danny Racchi 7 Ryan Hall 8 James Berrett 9 Chib Chilaka (16 Greg Smith 80) 10 James Baxendale 11 Jake Green Other subs: 12 Ryan Baldwin 15 Craig Westcarr 17 Sam Andrew
REFEREE: Gareth Davis (Loughborough) ATTENDANCE: 372 BEST GLADIATOR: Marcus Marshall